Thursday of the 3rd Week of Lent
Yet they did not listen, did not pay attention; they followed the dictates of their own evil hearts…
I looked up the etymology of the word ‘stiff-necked’ for today’s reflection. I use this word a lot, but it never occurred to me to seek out its origin before. BibleStudyTools.com says it comes from the practice of working an ox-drawn plough. The ploughman would guide the ox with one hand, using something called an ‘ox goad’ — a pole with a spike on one end. The ploughman would prod at the ox with this spike when he wanted it to speed up, or to keep it along a straight line. Non-compliant oxen were called ‘stiff necked’ because no amount of prodding would make it do the ploughman’s bidding. How apt.
One of the hardest things about loving someone is watching them make bad life decisions, knowing you are powerless to stop them. We all have someone like that in our lives. Like the stiff-necked oxen, stubborn people can’t be advised. They have an almost primal need to learn things the hard way. Trying to talk them out of it only gets you cancelled or they’ll argue their point so loudly and vociferously, you won’t get a word in edgeways. They always have a reason for why you don’t get it, and how they know better. It’s an argument you cannot win. You want to leave them to it, to save yourself and preserve your sanity, but love (or duty) keeps you there. So you watch, and hope, that when it hits the fan, God will be merciful, and give you both the grace to get through it.
I’m programmed for flight before fight. The old me would bolt at the first sign of a confrontation, or the first hint of bad decision-making. It takes a lot of prayer to hold steady here, to keep my “I told you so’s” to myself, to stay positive, to be supportive, all while watching a bad situation unfold. I try to picture Jesus as he evangelized to his own people, how he too had to talk through the stubborn disbelief, and often unsuccessfully. Maybe it is enough to have tried? Our Christ made peace with it, perhaps I too can learn to do the same.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for those who use intelligence to justify themselves. May they find their way back to the only source that fulfils — Christ our Lord.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the gift of faith, and the peace that comes with being a child of God.