“O my God, let not flesh and blood prevail over me; let it not overcome me; let not the world and its transitory glory deceive me; let not the devil overreach me by his devices.” (IC 3,26,3) | “Two evils have my people done: they have forsaken me, the source of living waters; They have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.” (Jer 2:13)

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXVI: ”The Eminence of a Free Mind, which is Acquired by Humble Prayer Rather than with Much Reading” (second entry)

The disciple begs Christ for His assistance in overcoming carnal desires. The pull of this world is strong but His faith in the Lord’s grace is stronger.

|Today’s first reading: Jer 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13

This reading gives us the first words uttered by the reluctant prophet Jeremiah after being appointed by God “To uproot and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant” (Jer 1:10). Jeremiah, writing in the late seventh century B.C., warns Jerusalem and the Israelites of coming disaster due to their sinfulness (Jerusalem would fall soon to the Babylonians in 587 B.C.). Here the prophet conveys the message that God bemoans the fact that His once faithful people, whom He cared for and protected, have turned to idolatry and rebellion and have forsaken Him. The “cisterns” refer to worldliness that cannot satisfy.

|Reflection

“Flesh and blood” prevailed over the Chosen People time and time again. They would go astray, be punished, declare their guilt and sorrow, be forgiven,, only to quickly forget their promise to be faithful. We should not be judgmental, though. Is this pattern of living not so often the case with us? We stumble, seek forgiveness, vow to not commit the same sins, and then quickly fall back into the trap. It is the fallen human condition. It makes us realize that without grace we can do nothing. What we must hold just as firmly is that “for God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26) and that the Lord’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). Thank God for His bottomless mercy. But we must want it, have a firm purpose of amendment, and ever strive to open ourselves more widely to accept His grace.

Jeremiah Preaching to His Followers - Gustave Dore
Jeremiah Preaching to His Followers by Gustave Dore (1832-1883)

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