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Friday after Ash Wednesday

Friday, February 15, 2013
Readings: Isaiah 58:1-9; Psalm 50; Matthew 9: 14-15

Lent is an excellent time to step back and evaluate our priorities: is what we say we believe, or what we think we believe, manifested in how we choose to live? If we examine our concrete day to day decisions, for example how we spend our time, or who we spend this time with, or what we spend our money on and so on, do we find that our energies and resources are invested in what we value most? Do we devote ourselves, as far as possible, to what we think is most important? Or have we, for whatever reason, allowed distractions or trivialities or the impositions of others to take us away from what gives us joy and life? Have these distractions stopped us from living the life that we want to live? Have these trivialities stopped us from becoming the kind of person that we always wanted to be?

Human fulfilment, both as individuals and as societies, is found in Christ: it is found in a Gospel centred life. If human priorities such as money, power, pleasure, entertainment, comfort, safety and so on are in fact the governing principles at the centre of our lives then we work against both our fulfilment and the fulfilment of our neighbour. We put love of self ahead of love of neighbour, and so also ahead of love of God. This slide into worldliness can happen almost imperceptibly which is why it is such a good idea to take stock regularly: it is very easy to become a hypocrite. 

In our first reading God calls Israel to account: the people have been keeping fasts and they have been saying their prayers, yet their outward devotion is not matched by a commitment to truth, love, and justice. Their deeds do not match their words. God urges the people to put their lives in order, to recommit to justice, to get their priorities straight, not just for the sake of the poor and oppressed, but for their own sake also: 

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am (Isaiah 58:1-9).

Nicholas Crowe OP


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