March 6, 2020 – Friday of the First Week of Lent
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030620.cfm)
There was a wealthy man who told a young priest that he was not so religious, in the sense that he would not go to Church. However, as a form of religious piety that he could do, since he was rich, he would only donate big amount of money to several parish churches in the city.
The wealthy man proudly enumerated how he helped through his charity to finish the construction of a particular church, helped another church to build its own adoration chapel and assisted another church for its air-conditioning and so on. The man was indeed wealthy, yet, as the wealthy man enumerated his charitable acts, there was no mention if he ever gave just compensation to his many workers and laborers, if he ever been a good and faithful husband and father, or an honest and just businessman.
The young priest did not judge the wealthy man for this but this gave the priest questions in his heart. The young priest asked himself,
“Is it enough to only do what is comfortable for me? Is it enough to show to others that I am charitable and to be proud of my good works? Is it enough for God that I will just do some good works but remain indifferent with others?”
With this, this reminds me of today’s challenge of Jesus in the Gospel. The Lord calls his disciples and also all of us today, “unless you surpass the righteousness of the Lawyers and the Pharisees, then, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.”
Without condemning these people, who were the Jewish Lawyers and Pharisees, Jesus wants us to realize something beyond the usual actions of these people and to become righteous beyond what is minimal.
Indeed, they were more inclined in focusing on the letters of the law, meaning, these people were more concerned of following trivial things in the Jewish Law. However, this kind of attitude prevented them to be compassionate to others and more expressive of mercy to the sinners, the sick and the poor.
Thus, Jesus gave a very practical challenge to his disciples, an action that expresses mercy and compassion. Jesus calls for “Reconciliation” and “Reparation” of the damage we have caused to others. To be reconciled with the person whom we have hurt and those who have hurt us expresses the essence of this Season of Lent.
Hence, Lent invites us to look closely at our failures and sins and to recognize them. Yet, we do not stop at the recognition of sin but we step forward by making peace, by reconciling ourselves with others, by doing the right thing and doing what God desires us to do.
This tells us that God also challenges us to go beyond from what is only easy and comfortable for us. It is a big temptation to settle to what is only minimal and become complacent and indifferent towards others. And true enough, it is very easy for us to continue what we are doing like going to mass, praying our rosary and novena, and going to confession regularly, but then, remaining unmoved by the many social issues that surround us, or remaining indifferent to the needs of people around or in doing the same sins over and over again.
Today, Jesus invites us to be more expressive of our devotion to him by being honest and true in our words and actions and by seeking reconciliation and peace with our brothers and sisters. In these ways, then, we make a room for Jesus to renew our heart and to experience God’s mercy. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR