Some may have a similar memory to me…that of being a child on the playground when teams were being chosen. I recall having some anxiety about which team would choose me (or be willing to have me) since I was not athletically talented. For childhood games and sports, ultimately teams may be somewhat arbitrary as the stakes are merely a winner and loser of kickball, but the stakes and importance of teams are far more serious in the spiritual life.
In today’s Gospel, after Jesus heals one possessed by a demon, he is accused of being a demon. Jesus points out the lack of logic in this accusation as surely a “kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste”, but he also takes the opportunity to draw a line in the sand.
Line in the Sand
We may be familiar with the expression – drawing a line in the sand. The line signifies the distinction between 2 sides. If someone draws a line in the sand, you have to choose – will you stand with him on one side or without him on the other? At times, that decision can make us uncomfortable. What if we do not want to choose? What if it suits us at times to think one way and at other times, another?
Jesus draws the line in the sand in this Gospel. He makes the stakes clear when he proclaims: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” The lines here are not two arbitrary teams, but rather the stark divide between good and evil. Evil may look powerful with its dark forces, but Jesus came to establish a Kingdom of Love, and it will prevail! What can we do to help us ensure we stay on Jesus’ side?
Heart Check-Up: Examen Prayer
The first reading from Jeremiah as well as today’s Psalm point to what is necessary to ensure we are on the right side – that of God’s Kingdom of Love, and it has to do with the heart. When a heart is divided it has a resistance and a hardness to it. It cannot hear or yield to the voice of our Loving Father, and it puffs up with pride. Deep within the heart, we may have moments where we are teetering between listening to the voice of our Savior or that of the Liar. The Psalm gives us the wisdom and encouragement we need to fine-tune our hearing: “Come let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock He guides.”
Just like a kingdom divided against itself is unable to stand, we too must discern when we are divided against our own selves. It is so important that throughout the day we live in a gentle, yet perpetual, heart check-up. When we sense division, accusations, disturbances of any kind, we need to pause and ask whose voice we are hearing. We need to renounce the lies and proclaim God’s truth.
As we continue to live this Lent, let us consider areas where our own hearts may still be divided. Let us ask Christ to help us be rooted firmly on His Side with a heart ready to be empowered and molded according to His Will.
This response to the readings have inspired me to do better in areas I struggle with by praying Lord help me be more like you and transform my heart.