Lent 2nd Week , Tuesday, March 10th

Isaiah 1:10, 16-20 / Matthew 23:1-12
Jesus rebukes the Pharisees: “They widen their phylacteries.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-6,8 reads: “Hear, 0 Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words....Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.” which held tiny scrolls. The boxes were strapped to the left arm (signifying subjugation of the heart to God) and on the forehead (signifying subjugation of the mind to God).
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for making these leather boxes bigger to call attention to their religious piety, rather than to the commandments. How much “show” is in our religious observance? “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” Matthew 6:1
The recent scandals in the Church involving the clergy had certainly tarnished the dignity of the priesthood and left it in tatters.

Where once the priesthood was a symbol of moral and spiritual authority, now a long dark shadow is cast over it as the Church struggles to uphold the necessity of the clergy and its sacramental ministry.

Yet the scandals also point out to the lurking danger of succumbing to the abuse of authority and giving in to ulterior motives and vested interests.

But it must also be said that there is nothing new under the sun, and what had happened is a recurrence of what had already happened in the past, although in different forms.

When religious and spiritual leaders abuse their authority, religion will be seen as ugly, and subsequently the scandals will be many.

Even in the gospel, Jesus would point out this danger as He pointed out the how the scribes and Pharisees leaned toward getting attention and status at the expense of the faith of the people.

Yet as the Church and as the people of God, we need to pray for our religious leaders, i.e. the Pope, bishops and priests, that they will always be aware of their divine calling and to serve God and His people and not to serve themselves.

Yes the clergy has to really take heed of the Word of the Lord in the 1st reading: Wash, make yourselves clean. Take your wrong-doing out of my sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good.

When the clergy heed the Word of the Lord, the People of God will surely follow suit.

Let us continue to pray for the priests and religious, that they will be humble and show us the way of love and service, and bring about healing for the Church.
Tuesday of 2nd Week of Lent - LITURGY


When we know our faith and practice our religious duties and observances – when we go to Mass and the sacraments and practice penance during Lent – are we good Christians? Only if our heart is in what we do. If we act as we believe and do what we say. If our faith affects our everyday living and our relations with our neighbor. If we build up the kingdom of God. Otherwise our faith is hypocritical.

Penitential Rite:
-As you ask us to wash ourselves clean, cease doing evil and learn to do good, LHM
-As you speak to us to put away our misdeeds from before your eyes, CHM
-As you want from us justice as our aim so that we redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow, LHM

Opening Prayer 
Lord God, you want us to live our faith not so much as a set of rules and practices but as a relationship from person to person with you and with people. God, keep our hearts turned to you, that we may live what we believe and that we may express our love for you in terms of service to those around us, as Jesus did, your Son, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.

The Gospel today emphasizes the importance of service and humility, which must characterize the Christian community. Honors and tides—rabbi, father, and teacher—that were proper to other states of life were to be avoided when they conferred an authority that belonged only to God. This prohibition does not extend to such titles in society at large, but only to leaders in the community. The male head in the family remains “father” and the presider in the classroom is still “teacher.” But such tides must not become designations of high office or exalted status within the ecclesial community. The reason for this is that in the realm of faith, the one teacher and father is God himself or the Messiah whom he has sent. So what title is appropriate within the Christian community when speaking of our co-religionists? There is a title that appears repeatedly in the New Testament: “brother and sister.” It is a title that relates us to Christ as brother and to God as father. It is a designation that binds us together as members of one family. It is a term dear to the New Testament and bears no connotation of a superior position. During my assignment in Rome in the 1970s, I once traveled with the minister general of the Capuchin Franciscans to the town of Aquila, some few hours from Rome. He spoke of his determination to see that all Capuchins be designated brothers or friars, not fathers, in keeping with the mind of St. Francis himself. And he had had a considerable measure of success. I congratulated him on his initiative. Arriving at our destination, we approached the friary driveway. Facing us was a large sign that read “Capuchin Fathers”! “Well, Paschal,” I said, “you win some and you lose some!” 

Points to Ponder 
Titles and honors in the church today
The role of the Christian leader
The humble are exalted 

– That we dare to see what is wrong in our Church and in society and voice our protest, we pray:
– That leaders in the Church and in politics may not let deeds of hunger for power or greed contradict their words and promises, we pray:
– That we may all care for widows and orphans and for those who have a hard time in life, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
Lord God, we are gathered before you with your Son in our midst. May we learn from him that to celebrate the Eucharist is no substitute for committing ourselves to the work of justice and mercy but its source of strength. May we build up among us your kingdom of peace. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. 

Prayer after Communion 
Lord our God, you send us to be your community, to be your sign to the world. May we not draw attention to ourselves or to our practices, but go to you together as your people and guide the world to you. May service and love be our humble way, and may Jesus lead us, he who is your Son and our Lord for ever. 

May God give us a sense of honesty with ourselves and with God, that we may not pretend to be better than we are and do nothing just for the sake of being seen by people. God knows, and that is enough. May the holy, truthful God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.