Joel 1:13-15;2:1-2; Ps 9 The Lord will judge the world with justice; Luke 11:15-26
Desperate times call for desperate measures or at least that is how the adage goes.
When you look a the the first reading and heed the words of Jesus in the gospel it seems very desperate in deed.
The prophet Joel is ranting about the day of the Lord and is calling the minsters of the altar to task. Time is running out. So what is left but one last heave to the heavens. It is like a last minute heave into the end zone hoping that someone on our side might come down with the ball.
An old fashion "Hail Mary."
Joel mentions: weeping, sackcloth, fasting, and crying to the Lord.
This call to action or penance is a call to turn our attention to God most clearly.
The priest and the people have been distracted and now they are called to remove the distraction in their life, to set their face toward God.
We call this penance in the life of faith.
Here is what St Thomas has to say about it:
“the will must abandon sin by moving in a contrary direction from those movements whereby it was inclined toward sin. Now, it was inclined toward sin by appetition [desire] and enjoyment in regard to lower things. Therefore, it must move away from sin by means of certain penances whereby it suffers some injury because of the sin that it has committed. For, just as the will was drawn toward consent to the sin by means of pleasure, so is it strengthened in the detestation of sin by means of penances”
This is all carried out by the grace of Jesus who wants to configure us to be like him.
What are the distractions in our life? What penances can help us redirect our lives to be more attentive to God's call?
It is these acts of penance that ensure that God reigns supreme in us and through us. "A kingdom divided against itself will be laid to waste" Jesus informs us and warns us in the gospel. The best way to be divided is to be distracted, to be caught up in all the wrong things though we think them right at the time.
Penance prepares our heart to let JEsus reign supreme. It keeps us from being attached to sinful desires and allows us to be reattached to JEsus and The Holy Spirit.