21 March 2020
Saturday of the 3rd Week of Lent
In today’s readings, we see the prophet Hosea’s words have struck the right note, and Israel is returning to God by practicing covenant love. The people look forward to all the good things that will come their way. After all, at their shrines, their priests were busy offering all the prescribed sacrifices. That was proof of their sincerity, right? Well not really! Rather than restructuring their society to eliminate injustice, they are following all the rules of religious ritual. God will have none of it: It is mercy God wants, not burnt offerings, rote prayer, or multiple prayers said repeatedly while our thoughts are a thousand miles away. God wants a change of heart that is evidenced by how one’s life is lived. The prophet Hosea criticizes the kind of ritual sacrifice that prevents people from recognizing their real relationship with God, and Jesus condemns any sacrifice that interferes with their true relationship with God.
Outward show, legalistic religion, and a holier-than-thou attitude mark the Pharisee’s prayer described in the gospel. On the other hand, the tax collector is very aware of his stance before God as a sinner. He desires God’s mercy. He receives it and is justified before God. Those in the temple area tune in only to outward signs and make a judgment about who has offered the better prayer.
We’re all sinners, but many of us avoid naming our sins. We will “pray, pay, and obey” than build a world of justice, compassion, truth, and mercy. Are we able this Lent to be honest with ourselves before God? How will we turn around so that we can offer God a contrite and humbled heart in these turbulent times of anxiety? Trust in the Lord and let’s strive to have the attitude of Christ our Lord. – Deacon Frank Sullivan
Let us Pray,
Rejoicing in this annual celebration
of our Lenten observance,
we pray, O Lord,
that, with our hearts set on the paschal mysteries,
we may be gladdened by their full effects.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.