Sunday, February 21, 2016

Reflections for the 2nd Week of Lent, Part 1

Monday – You are the Christ

It was an amazing proclamation: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Simon must have been shocked to hear those words coming from his own lips. His very next thought may well have been, “Huh? What? Where did that come from? Wow.” 

Jesus knew Who had given His fisherman friend such a revelation. “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah,” He replied. “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My heavenly Father.”

Jesus and His Father had a plan for Simon. He was to be the rock upon which Jesus would build His Church, the vicar of the King, who would hold the keys to the Kingdom and have the authority to bind and loose. Therefore, Simon needed to know the truth. That's why the Father placed this knowledge in his heart and on his lips. That's why he exclaimed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

Tuesday – Going through the Motions

People can be really good at going through the motions of religion. In today's Psalm, we hear God remark that His people's sacrifices are always before Him. They recite His laws and talk about His covenant. But they don't follow the laws nor keep the covenant, and their sacrifices are meaningless because they don't offer them with their hearts. 

The Pharisees of the Gospel are also experts at going through the motions. They love to give orders and weigh down their followers with a multitude of customs. They thrive on being seen and honored and greeted with titles. They wear special clothing to indicate their status. Everything they do is designed to make them important. But they don't truly worship God. Their practices are empty, their titles unimpressive in the end, their honor fleeting, and their status merely earthly.

These two readings are designed to make us ask ourselves some important questions. Do we merely go through the motions of worshiping God? Is Mass merely a routine? Do we actually follow God's law in both our day-to-day choices and our major moral decisions? Are we really in a covenant with God; are we really His children? What are our motives when we pray or serve others? Are we just trying to bolster our reputation? Are we just looking for honor? Or do we truly give God all of our praise, our love, and, most importantly, ourselves? 

Wednesday – Out to Get Him

Jeremiah had ever reason to be paranoid. People really were out to get him. The residents of Judah and Jerusalem were troubled by the prophet's message. They simply didn't like being told that they were wrong, that they weren't worshiping God in the way He wanted to be worshiped, that they were sinning. So they decided to eliminate the problem. They would get rid of Jeremiah...permanently.

“Come,” they said to one another, “let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah.” It wouldn't be any great loss really, they told themselves. They would still have the priests and the teachers, the ones who tended to tell them what they wanted to hear, but this nuisance prophet wouldn't trouble them any longer.

Jeremiah recognized their scheme and turned to God for help. “Must good be repaid with evil,” he asked, “that they should dig a pit to take my life?” He reminded God that he had even prayed for these people that they might not feel His wrath. He was only trying to help them, and now they were turning on him.

Jeremiah was certainly not the only person to ever feel like the world was out to get him (and be right about it). He foreshadowed Jesus in this, for Jesus, too, made His complacent contemporaries so uncomfortable that they wanted to, and did, kill Him. We, too, often experience such animosity and betrayal from others, especially when we challenge their core beliefs and behaviors. But like Jeremiah and Jesus, we are called to be light for the world, to shine into dark corners, and to proclaim God's word and God's way to all people, even if they don't accept them.

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