2nd Week of Lent
First reading: Isaiah 1:10,16-20
Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the command of our God, You people of Gomorrah. ‘Wash, make yourselves clean. Take your wrong-doing Out of my sight. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good, search for justice, help the oppressed, be just to the orphan, plead for the widow. ‘Come now, Let us talk this over, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they Shall be like wool. ‘If you are willing to obey, you shall eat the good things of the earth. But if you persist in rebellion, the sword shall eat you instead.’
Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12
Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The Scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi. ‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’
An Invitation for renewal: The Pharisees speak words of wisdom with authority, but hardly convince others. Yet, they lack credibility. As Isaiah says, cleansing of oneself is key to being close to God. Hypocrites tell people what to do, but they do not do the same. It is based on this that Jesus warns the disciples not to be like these leaders, “they load it over others”. Instead Christians are called to be servants. True servanthood starts with honouring God through clean hearts. It comes through obeying God’s commandments. It comes through being there for those in need. When we do this, we shall allow the Spirit to be active within us. This Spirit shall take charge of our lives, of our Church and fill us with positive energy to do God’s Will. Let us strive to lay aside our tendencies of pharisaism and replace it with acts that empower others.
Prayer: Good God, help us to present a culture where others will look at our lives and search for you in earnest.
HUMILITY IS BEING MYSELF: There is a new area of psychology called, “Positive psychology”. The psychologists in this camp claim that practice of virtue and character contributes to our own individual wellbeing and the survival of the human species. They have identified 24 such character strengths. Contemporary research around these virtues claims that humility is the least practiced virtue in the contemporary world. It is an arrogant world. Everyone wants to be more than what they are. Jesus had several friends among the Pharisees, but what annoyed him was their pomp and pride about their practice of religion. All of us might have our own pharisaic dimension: showing of, wanting to be recognized in front of others, and being more than what we are. The Word of God invites us, as we continue our Lenten journey, to submit ourselves to God who is the only father, and to Christ who is the only master.