March 14, 2017

March 14

March 14, 2017:  Tuesday, 2nd week, Lent

Guest dresser Silvia

  • Silvia's red sweater and white polka dots, my tie with red and snowmen (disregard the Christmas tree :-):  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' pin:  Make justice your aim (1st reading)
  • Blue shirt (and cuff links):  Wash yourselves clean! (1st reading)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes (1st reading); I'll draw your misdeeds up before your eyes (psalm); the scribes and Pharisees perform their works to be seen (gospel)
  • White tie pin:  Your sins may become white (1st reading)
  • 'Fire' pin:  Your burnt offerings are before me always (psalm)
  • 'Hands' pin:  The scribes and Pharisees lay burdens on people's shoulders but don't lift a finger to move them (gospel)

  • Purple suspenders: Lenten season


For Psalm 50
Conversion starts, as Isaiah says, with avoiding evil and learning to do good.  Each of us does something ugly every day.  The problem lies in not getting into the habit of living in ugly things and in avoiding what poisons the soul.  Then we have to learn to do good; it's not easy, but God teaches us.  Each day a Christian has to learn to be better than the day before.  Avoid evil and learn to do good:  this is the rule of conversion.  Being converted doesn’t come from a magic wand; it's a journey of avoiding and learning.
You need courage to avoid evil and humility to do good, expressed in concrete actions:  The Lord names three things, but there are many:  seek justice, relieve the oppressed, give orphans justice, defend the widow's cause.  You learn to do good with concrete deeds, not words.  Jesus rebukes the rulers because they talk and don’t act; they're not concrete.  Without concreteness, there's no conversion.
The Lord continues, “Come ['arise']; let's reason together.”  Jesus also says "Arise" to paralytics, the daughter of Jairus, and the son of the widow of Naim.  God helps us up.  And he's humble, lowering himself to say, “Let's reason together.”  God walks with us to help us, to explain things, to take us by the hand.  He miraculously changes us on a journey, not overnight.
If you protest that you have so many sins, he responds, "If they should be like scarlet, they'll become snow white."  This is the simple path of conversion.  The Father really loves us and accompanies us.  He asks us to be humble.  "All who exalt themselves will be humbled; and all who humble themselves will be exalted."  Avoid evil, learn to do good, get up, and go with him, and your sins will be forgiven.
  • 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.
    • Creighton:  Isaiah tells us the place to begin is to listen to God.  Which of my Lenten practices will bring justice to those who need an advocate?  How can I help "set things right"?  Jesus calls us to become servants.  May we humble ourselves....
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Pride and praise":  The Lord commands us to praise him, but pride is the enemy of praise; it takes humility to praise God and to recognize our sinfulness.  God is all-powerful and all-merciful.  If we're proud, we won't praise God; we'll either elevate ourselves or bring him down to our level.  May we humble ourselves in God's sight, and praise the Lord.
    • Passionist:  In yesterday's gospel, the Father proclaimed, “This is my beloved son; listen to him.”  In today’s 1st reading, Isaiah also tells us to “Listen to the instruction of our God.”  Today's gospel encourages us to practice what we've been taught and know is right and to help those we see struggling.  Serve and be humble!  May I think of others more than myself....  How can I do that today?
    •  "Whoever humbles oneself will be exalted":  We want others to see us at our best.  God sees us as we are, in need of his mercy and help.  Isaiah warned the people to listen humbly and submit to God's teaching.  Jesus warned Israel's teachers and rulers to teach and serve with humility and sincerity; in their misguided zeal they sought honor for themselves rather than God and made practicing faith a burden, not a joy.  Jesus warned his disciples and the religious leaders against seeking honors that draw attention to ourselves rather than God.  Respect for God inclines us to humble ourselves and submit to him.  Pride tempts us to put ourselves first.  "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."  "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."  "You have one teacher, and you're all brothers....  Don't put yourself forward to be called teacher; you know that when you perform well, it's Christ within you.  Whoever is greater among you, let him be the servant of all" (Origen).
      Respect for God and his ways inclines us to humility and simplicity, readiness to seek the one true good, God.  True humility isn't low self-esteem, which focuses attention on ourselves; it frees us from preoccupation with ourselves.  Humility is truth in self-understanding and action, seeing ourselves as God sees us.  The humble assess themselves realistically and don't put on a façade to look good to others.  Humility frees us to be ourselves, avoid falling into despair or pride, and not be swayed by reputation, success, or failure.  It enables us to see as God sees; it helps us be teachable so we may acquire true knowledge and wisdom.  It directs us to give ourselves to something greater than ourselves; it frees us to love and serve others for their sake, not ours.  Jesus is the greatest model:  he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death on a cross.

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