From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day,
I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets.
Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed;
they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.
When you speak all these words to them,
they will not listen to you either;
when you call to them, they will not answer you.
Say to them:
This is the nation that does not listen
to the voice of the LORD, its God,
or take correction.
Faithfulness has disappeared;
the word itself is banished from their speech. (Jeremiah 7:23-28)
Human beings don’t respond well to God, our reading from Jeremiah says today. His words are especially pessimistic. People won’t listen to you when you speak to them, God tells Jeremiah. It’s like that since they came from Egypt. It’s like that today.
In Luke’s Gospel, also read today, Jesus is dismissed as a devil by some in the crowd as he gives a mute person power to speak. By the devil’s power he does this, they say. It’s not the only time it happens. From the beginning of his ministry at Nazareth, Luke’s Gospel read Monday this week reminds us, Jesus was dismissed by his own people
They are not the only ones slow to believe. Naaman the Syrian was ready to go home after they told him his leprosy could be cured by going into the Jordan. “How slow you are to believe,” Jesus said to the disciples on the way to Emmaus . The same can be said of us.
Yet, the mercy of God is stronger than our unbelief, our Lenten readings say. Jesus continues on to Jerusalem, no matter how unbelieving his own people at Nazareth are, or the leaders of his people, or the crowds in the cities where he taught and worked wonders , or his own disciples, or outsiders like Naaman,–or we are.
No matter how strong human unbelief, Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem, proclaiming the mercy and love of God to a people slow to believe. So we stay close to him and listen to his word.
“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts” our responsory says today. Even today, he speaks.