March 3, 2015

March 3

March 3, 2015:  Tuesday, Second Week of Lent

  • Tie with red and snowmen:  Though your sins be like scarlet/crimson, they may become white as snow (1st reading)
  • 'Sword' tie pin:  If you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you (1st reading)
  • 'Scales of justice' pin:  make justice your aim (1st reading)
  • Blue shirt:  wash yourselves clean! (1st reading)
  • White tie pin:  your sins may become white (1st reading)
  • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

Pope Francis homily
God prefers “sanctified sinners” (who despite their sins learn to do good) to “fake saints” (more concerned with appearance than doing good).  The 1st reading is an invitation and imperative to conversion:  "Cease to do evil, learn to do good," defending those no one remembers, including the abandoned elderly, children who don't go to school or know how to make the sign of the Cross.  You convert by learning to do right!  You can't have the dry cleaners remove the filth of the heart; remove it by doing, taking the path of doing good:  seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.  (In Israel orphans and widows were the most needy.)  Go to the wounds and pain of humanity; the good will cleanse your heart.  A cleansed heart is promised God’s forgiveness.  God does not count the sins of those who concretely love their neighbor.  "If you take the path I invite you to, though your sins be as scarlet, they'll be white as snow."  The Lord forgives everything!  But you must set out on the path of doing good. 
In today's gospel, Jesus reflects on hypocrites who say the right things but do the opposite, only pretending to convert.  Their heart belongs to the father of lies, not to the Lord; this is fake holiness.  Jesus prefers sinners because they tell the truth about themselves.  A hypocrite never says "Get away from me; I'm a sinner!" like Peter did.  Think about the invitation to conversion, the gift of forgiveness the Lord has for us, and the trap of hypocrisy.

  • Is 1:10, 16-20  Wash yourselves clean!  Cease doing evil; learn to do good.  Make justice your aim.  Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white.  If you obey, you'll eat well...
  • Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21, 23  "To the upright I will show the saving power of God."  Why recite my statutes when you hate discipline?  I'll correct you.  Offer praise as your sacrifice and do right.
  • Mt 23:1-12  Do what the Scribes and Pharisees tell you, not what they do; they don't practice what they preach.  Don't be called ‘Rabbi’ or ‘Master’ or call people ‘Father’; God is the only Father.  Serve; humble yourself and be exalted.
Roamin' Catholic report for a non-Catholic Christian church recommended for lively worship
  • Order of worship:  Opening song, introduce new members, penitential rite, live excerpt from upcoming kids musical, announcements, sermon, communion, charge and benediction, offering with final song
  • Dress:  casual but not sloppy, including worship leaders
  • Worship space:  smaller (capacity 200?) of the two in the church building
  • Technology:  dedicated team in the back doing sound and lighting and controlling permanent front/center/high big screen (song lyrics except at communion, scenes during kid musical excerpt; all pleasing to eyes and easy to read from the back).  Sound was great (clear, not overpowering); lighting was dramatic as for a concert (IMHO downsizing the assembly's role).
  • Kid musical excerpt, a modern take on half of the Prodigal Son story, was great; it showed kids were engaged, and the sermon picked up on the Prodigal Son.
  • Survey:  Among the announcements was one about a survey they're doing of the congregation; they projected how to access it online and said how to get a paper copy.  I started it today to see what it was like; it was well structured, brief, and had good questions.  I appreciated this because I think we don't encourage feedback from our parishioners or get enough of it.
  • Sermon touched not only on the Prodigal Son but also got into the Vanishing Grace book and spoke about God, us, and art:  Jesus' parables were a sort of art, and we're called to be an artistic expression of the face of Jesus...  (He made good points, but I'm used to more tightly organized content and not used to 20 minutes of preaching in a 75-minute service.)
  • Communion:  we were all invited up, but I respectfully stayed in my seat and prayed for closer Christian unity.  I heard they used 'real' bread (probably unleavened) and appreciate that sign.
  • Surprise:  Non-Catholic Christian services I've attended have been Word-heavy, with Bible readings and long sermons/messages.  Though Sunday morning's service referred to Scripture, especially Lk 15:11-32, but there was actually no Bible reading.  I missed it.
  • Music ministry:  front and center stage (literally), including lead vocalist, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric bass, drummer (in drum cage at rear).  Some songs flowed into a spoken prayer over instrumental music; some might think it cheesy, but I thought it worked well.  Singing was stronger than at my parish, but I was surprised it was far from widespread and enthusiastic.  (Musicians changed for the kid musical excerpt:  drums out, sax in.)  Sung:
PS:  I was playing at Sunday's 5:30pm Mass so was free in the morning.  Thanks to Scott, Jessica, and Joe who were able to come along!
More Roamin' Catholic reports
    • Creighton:  New parents, priests, and professionals often suffer from the “imposter phenomenon” and feel underqualified.  Many deal with these feelings badly, overcompensating for their insecurity by overwork or avoiding work.  Jesus corrects the Pharisees, who likely fell victim to this, telling them to avoid titles that prop us up but get in the way of our call to serve.  Forget your titles, humble yourself, and drop your self-misperceptions to see yourself as the child of God you are and let your love flow from that.
    • One Bread One Body:  "The deluge of guilt":  Many have unformed or deformed consciences, but reality finally sets in, and guilt can flood them.  When they cry to the Lord, he forgives, frees, and heals them.  Jesus took on our sins and guilt at the Cross so we can be washed from guilt and cleansed from sin.
    • Passionist:  Before we can set things right, we need to seek and offer forgiveness.  Don't give up on those who do you wrong; forgive as God has you.
      St. Katharine Drexel
    •  Isaiah warned the people to listen and submit to God's teaching to do good, not evil; Jesus warned the scribes and Pharisees to teach and serve with humility and sincerity instead of making faith a burden for others.   Respect for God leads to humility and submission.
    Origen reminds teachers/leaders they're disciples/servants first:  "You have one teacher, and you're all brothers...  Whoever ministers with the divine word doesn't put himself forward to be called teacher, for he knows that when he performs well it's Christ within him.  He should only call himself servant...."
    The humble assess themselves realistically.  True humility frees us to be ourselves as God regards us and not fall into despair or pride or put on a facade.   Humility is the foundation of other virtues; it enables us to see as God sees, be teachable, give ourselves to something greater than ourselves, and love and serve willingly and selflessly.  The greatest example of humility is Jesus Christ, who became obedient unto death on a cross.
      • St. Vignal (1 of 50 name variations), abbot

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