Thursday of the Third week of Lent
The Spiritual Battle
If the wars of the Old Testament were not symbols of spiritual battles, I think the historical books of the Jews would never have been transmitted to Christ's disciples, he who came to teach us peace. The Apostles would never have transmitted them as readings to be carried out in the assemblies. What use would such descriptions of wars have to those who listen to Jesus telling them: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (Jn 14,27), or for those whom Paul commands: “Do not look for revenge” (Rom 12,19) and “Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather let yourselves be cheated?” (1 Cor 6,7).
Paul knows well enough that we are not supposed to go to war anymore – not in a physical way – but that we are supposed to fight a great battle in our soul, against our spiritual enemies. As a commander in chief, he gives his orders to Christ's soldiers: “Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil” (Eph 6,11). And so that we may find in the acts of our ancestors the models of spiritual wars, he wished us to read in the assembly the story of their achievements. Since we are spiritual - we who learn that “the law is spiritual” (Rom 7,14) - we may then approach this reading by “describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms” (1 Cor 2,13). In this way we may consider, through these nations that have visibly attacked Israel, what is the power of these nations of spiritual enemies, of these “evil spirits in the heavens” (Eph 6,12), who start wars against the Church of the Lord, the new Israel.