|Third Sunday of Lent, called "Oculi"|
The Introit of this day's Mass contains the prayer of a soul anxious to be freed from the snares of sin: "My eyes are ever towards the Lord; for He shall pluck my feet out of the snare. Look Thou upon me and have mercy upon me, for I am alone and poor. To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul; in Thee, O God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed" (Ps. xxiv. 15, 16, 1, 2).
he Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, v. 1-9. Brethren: Be ye therefore followers of God, as most dear children. And walk in love as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness. But fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints: or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose: but rather giving of thanks. For know you this and understand that no fornicator, nor unclean, nor covetous person (which is a serving of idols), hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words. For because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light: for the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth.
St. Paul here declares it to be the duty of every Christian, not only to walk in love, but also to abstain from fornication, impurity, and equivocal and immodest talk. No one, therefore, who is addicted to these vices can have any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ.
O Lord, free my heart from all inordinate desires for temporal goods and sensual pleasures. May a childlike fear of Thee guard my tongue, that I may not speak foolish or sinful words.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. Luke, xi. 14-28. At that time Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb; and when He had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke: and the multitudes were in admiration at it: but some of them said: He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. And others tempting, asked of Him a sign from heaven. But he seeing their thoughts said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall. And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say, that through Beelzebub I cast out devils. Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his court: those things are in peace which he possesseth. But if a stronger than he come upon him and overcome him: he will take away all his armour wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils. He that is not with Me is against Me: and he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest: and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house whence I came out. And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there. And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. And it came to pass: as He spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd lifting up her voice, said to Him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But He said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.
What are we to understand here by the dumb devil?
The evil spirit, who so controls those of whom he has possession that they are dumb, and through a false shame keep away from confession.
By what power did Christ cast out the devil?
By His divine power, which worked so suddenly and perfectly that the possessed was at once freed and able to speak.
How did Christ show the Jews that He did not cast out devils by Beelzebub?
1. By the parable in which He explains to them that the kingdom of Satan cannot stand if one evil spirit is cast out by another. 2. By pointing to their own children, some of whom were enabled to cast out devils by the power they had received from God (Mark ix. 37, 38). 3. By His whole life, and His works, which were in direct opposition to the devil.
O Jesus, conqueror of the dumb devil, strengthen me, that if I should have the misfortune to sin against Thy holy commandments I may have courage to overcome my false shame, and confess my sins in sincerity and humility. O my Saviour, be Thou my leader in the fight, that I may foil those arms of the devil: my evil inclinations, idleness, bad company, bad books, and human respect, and grant that I may never relapse into sin, but serve Thee with perseverance. Amen.