Jl 1:13-15; 2:1-2 / Lk 11:15-26
Self-protection is a powerful instinct and we make abundant efforts at it in daily conversation. Often times it’s a matter of not wanting to name and claim as our own the full reality of a problem or a failure, to say nothing of our desperation to not claim it in the presence of others. So we minimize and play down things that are serious and not small at all. We say things like, “I cheated a little on the test,” (I stole every single answer) or “I’m kinda pregnant,” (I’m in my eighth month) or “There’s a chance I could be HIV positive,” (I got the test results six months ago.) That kind of talk is pure, unadulterated self-deception, that lets us live in the illusion that we’re basically okay and don’t really need to take any action or make any changes.
In today’s gospel, Jesus makes it clear that he wants no part of such self-deceptions. Half-baked commitments or half-hearted responses to him are stamped “No Sale” when he says, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” For him, “maybe” or “kinda, sorta” are as good as “no.” So watch yourself for signs of fence straddling and trying to have things both ways. It won’t wash with Christ, and eventually it will even disgust you.