Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Reflection for the 2nd Week of Lent, Part 2

Thursday – Probing the Mind and Testing the Heart

God knows us well, very well, much better than we know ourselves. As He tells us through the prophet Jeremiah in today's first reading, He is an expert at probing the mind and testing the heart.

God digs down deep within us, right to the very core of our being. He pokes and prods and often makes us uncomfortable, but that's because he wants us to realize important truths about ourselves, about our world, and about Him. He shows us what we have and what we lack. He lets us struggle with mysteries and experience the sorrow and pain of guilt. He introduces us to ourselves and reveals Himself to us.

And He does all of this because He loves us more than we can ever imagine even in the depths of our minds and hearts.

Friday – The Wicked Tenants

The landowner in Jesus' parable has every right to the produce of his vineyard. After all, he planted it. He put up its hedge. He set up the wine press and built the tower. He did the work, and he owned the land. The produce belonged to him even though he was willing to share it.

But the wicked tenants would have none of that. They wanted to keep all the produce for themselves. Perhaps they figured they deserved it, for they had tended the plants and harvested the crop. But they forgot that the vineyard didn't belong to them. They weren't the ones who had created it or planted it. Their job was important, but it wasn't everything.

The tenants didn't stop with a mere denial of the landowner's right to his produce. They became violent with the servants the landowner sent to collect what was rightly his. Some they beat, some they stoned, and some they even killed. Finally, the landowner gave them one more chance to do the right thing; this time he sent his son.

But the tenants killed the landowner's son. Strangely, they thought that if the son were out of the way, the vineyard would be theirs by inheritance. It was the worst thing they could have done, and the son's murder sealed their condemnation. Even Jesus' audience of chief priests and Jewish elders recognized that the landowner would “put those wretched men to a wretched death” and find some new tenants who would be willing to give him his fair share.

But the chief priests and elders didn't realize that Jesus was really talking about them. They were the wicked tenants who refused to give their Landowner, God, His due. They were the ones who had beaten, stoned, and killed the Landowner's servants, the prophets. They were the ones who failed to recognize that Jesus Himself was the Landowner's Son. They would be the ones to put Him to death, and unless they repented, they would be the ones to suffer the Landowner's wrath.

Saturday – Forget Not

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”
Forget not the grace He pours out upon you.
Forget not the blessings He showers down at every moment.
Forget not the sacraments through which He comes to meet you.
Forget not His Word through which He speaks to you.
Forget not His law by which He guides you.
Forget not the love He has for you.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

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