Monday, February 19, 2018
February 19 - Monday of the First Week of Lent
+ What a powerhouse of recommendations and suggestions and requirements these readings of Lent place before us! Indeed! And the Gospel passage hits the proverbial nail right on the head!: the way you treat, regard, respect and care for one another quite literally and liberally is what you will be judged on at the Particular Judgment that you will face when you draw your last breath and Jesus stands before you, silently, and reviews such actions, and words and the inner recesses and workings of your heart! What will you say to him – as your soul becomes eternal at that point – and he stands waiting – maybe even tapping his foot – LISTENING TO YOU?
The passage goes on to enumerate things that had better be on your list:
For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”
But the first reading from the Book of Leviticus: paints a very specific picture for those awaiting the arrival of the Messiah and Lord: it is a kind of “practice” if you will – for when Jesus would inaugurate the Magna Carta of the Faith: “The Beatitudes” and then finish the Magnificent Sermon on the Mount: the heart and essence of who he is, holy, and who and what he and his Father expects us to be!, holy, and he gives us the very real actual power to be it, when needed, and that would be: HOLY.
“You must not steal nor deal deceitfully or fraudulently with your neighbour. You must not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God. I am the Lord. You must not exploit or rob your neighbour. You must not keep back the labourer’s wage until next morning. You must not curse the dumb, nor put an obstacle in the blind man’s way, but you must fear your God. I am the Lord.
‘“You must not be guilty of unjust verdicts. You must neither be partial to the little man nor overawed by the great; you must pass judgement on your neighbour according to justice. You must not slander your own people, and you must not jeopardise your neighbour’s life. I am the Lord. You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”’
Our challenge this Lent is to find time to quietly and reflectively ponder these words, this message, this exhortation: so that “it pierces our hearts” open so our sins and failures can leak out, and God magnificent grace can pour in and heal our wounds!
Yes, we must “shake off our sins, and make for ourselves a new heart and a new spirit! – it is the Lord who speaks!
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