Steadfast love, not burnt offerings, for the Lord

LENT 2020 – Day 25

Readings: Hos 5, 15-6,6; Ps 50, 3-4,18-19,20-21; Lk 18, 9-14

Like a child who yearns for the love and not the riches of his parents, God asks of us steadfast love and not sacrifice. But alas, we turn to Him only in difficult times – maybe when a dear one is in hospital or a near one is answering an exam. At other times we may pretend to be ‘self-made’ and self-sufficient… What a travesty of the truth, when in fact we can move only at God’s bidding.

Who is this God of ours? Do we really wish to know Him? Knowing our Creator and Saviour is a human need; loving Him, our bounden duty. However, our conceit prompts us to assume that we have done God a favour by our charitable work. Sometimes we compare ourselves favourably with others, 'lesser mortals'.

That only goes to prove that we encounter God by human standards. Or that we don’t know Him well enough. For His part, God loves the humble. He showed love to that loathsome tax collector who opened his heart out, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ It is the likes of these that go home happy, “for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted,” says the Lord.

The rule of thumb is that we shouldn’t sit in judgement. Not only are we unaware of the difficult times the other is going through, it doesn’t even befit us to judge. Only our Father in Heaven is entitled to do so. Our role is to smile, say a good word, and love!

Humility pays dividends

LENT 2020 – Day 20

Readings: Kings 5, 1-15; Ps 41, 2, 3; 42, 3, 4; Lk 4, 24-30

Naaman, that valiant army commander of Syria, suffered from leprosy. When they told him that prophet Elisha of Samaria could cure him, he rushed there, only to be upset that the prophet wasn’t very deferential. However, after he put his ego behind him and followed instructions, he was cured, and quickly proclaimed: “There is no God in all the earth but in Israel.”

Jesus is the Master Physician of the body and the soul; he cures our physical ailments and frees us from sin. But alas, we take no notice of the treasures we possess. Hence, Jesus said: “No prophet is acceptable in his own country.” We lack the humility to accept our faults when confronted with unpalatable truths. ‘Outsiders’ like Naaman strike gold, while we in our indifference or disbelief fall prey to false prophets.

Let's hasten to the altar of God like a deer to the running streams. Let's seek Him with humility and he will make us whole. Only the soul that thirsts for God stands protected.

It's not lonely at the top, we have the Lord by our side

Lent 2020 – Day 13

Readings: Jer 18, 18-20; Ps 30, 5-6, 14, 15-16; Jn 6, 63; Mt 20, 17-28

'It’s lonely at the top' is perhaps what Jeremiah felt at first when spurned by his people. Our parents and our God feel the same when we recklessly reject their plans and even rebel if things don’t turn out to our liking. Although we're free to propose, we must let God dispose: this technique is not only a stress-buster but also a herald of great blessings.

When Calvary was just round the corner, Jesus kept spoke to his disciples about wielding responsibility with care and concern for the people. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant… even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve,” said He.

Don’t leaders get involved in petty squabbles and at times people envy their power? Whether leaders or followers, let’s realise that all have a cross to bear; life shouldn’t be only about self but also about helping the other.

God-given tasks do entail responsibility but when we trust in the Lord, saying “Your words, Lord, are spirit and life,” we find ourselves smiling and never feel lonely at the top.

We have to serve God and neighbour

Day 12

Readings: Is 1, 10, 16-20; Ps 48, 8-9, 16-17, 21.23; Mt 23, 1-12

Isaiah recommends that we make a clean breast of our wrongdoings and pray for God’s pardon. Further on the proactive side, we need to take in the Word of God in all humility and practise even simple acts of kindness.

Jesus has a special word for leaders of all times, of the kind that don’t practise what they preach.... They are like the Pharisees and Scribes of yore, self-serving and even exploitative; in their vanity hanker after titles and draw the people to themselves rather than joyfully showing them the way to the heavenly Father.

That’s the context in which Jesus said that God alone is our Master, Teacher or Father…. Yet again, Jesus uses hyperbolic language to drive home a point: that the leaders should be service-oriented, for “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus humbled himself taking the form of a servant and we are called to do likewise: serve God by serving our neighbour.