Friday of the First Week of Lent 2012
Today's gospel is a part of the well-recognized Sermon on the Mount. Jesus' words draw the listeners to consider that God's mercy to be guaranteed demands repentance. Jesus, throughout this particular "sermon" -- remember it covers about three chapters of Matthew's gospel account -- is also trying to instill in hearts the very real danger of superficiality.
If we take the time to examine the various ways that Jesus speaks about how we have to live our lives to achieve the guarantee of God's mercy, we will find there a many ways in which we too easily fall into handling our road to repentance with a bit of superficiality.
In the State of Maryland, yesterday, the Governor, Martin O'Malley, signed into law a bill that will permit same sex marriages. Now his actions elicit very definite reactions: either you admire his position or you reject it. It seems difficult for me to find a middle ground in this matter. There is no superficiality about individual responses: you either like it or you don't!
How many times do you recite the Our Father prayer aloud or in you mind each day? Even if it is only once or twice a day, how much superficiality enters into this prayer as you recite or think it? Most would say "I'm not being superficial with this prayer." Let's look at one simple sentence in the prayer that Jesus taught us: "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." Do you really mean this when you pray these words?
Remember the words from St. John the Evangelist's first letter: "If someone says he loves God, but hates his brother [let me add for inclusivity "sister"], he is a liar." Furthermore, let's recall the significant words in Matthew (25:45) "Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me." Ouch! You see we can too easily pass over the impact of what Jesus was teaching.
Did anyone ever say that the life of a genuine follower of Jesus Christ would be easy? During these days of the annual Lenten journey let us pray to God for the grace to be honest with ourselves and our desires to live life as Jesus calls teaches.