“Our whole life should be centered on the will of the Father, expressed clearly and obviously in the law given to us by God – summed up in the Ten Commandments and epitomized most perfectly in the one great commandment to love God with all our hearts and minds and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
Excerpted from “Life and Holiness” by Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO
Monday, February 29 ~ Third Week in the Season of Lent
Holy Gospel: Luke 4:24-30 Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
Meditation: When Jesus went to his home town and spoke in the synagogue, his statement that no prophet or servant of God can receive honor among his own people was rather startling to those in attendance. He then angered them when he complimented the gentiles who seemed to have shown more faith in God than the “chosen ones” of Israel. They regarded gentiles as “fuel for the fires of hell.” Jesus’ praise for “outsiders” caused them offence because they were blind-sighted to God’s mercy and plan of redemption for all nations. The word of warning and judgment spoken by Jesus was met with hostility by his own people. They forcibly threw him out of the city and would have done him harm had he not stopped them. The Lord offers us freedom and pardon and the grace to walk in his way of righteousness. His discipline is for our good that we may share his holiness (Hebrews 12:10). “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1). Do you seek the Lord for instruction and help so you can grow in holiness?
Prayer: May your unfailing compassion, O Lord, cleanse and protect your Church, and since without you she cannot stand secure, may she be always governed by your grace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: What limits God’s grace and power in our lives to undergo change and transformation of mind and heart? Our indifference and lack of faith for starters! The prophets confronted God’s people with their indifference and unbelief. God’s grace and mercy is offered freely to those who seek it with sincerity, repentance, and faith. When Naaman, a non-Jew went to Jerusalem to seek a cure, the prophet Elisha instructed him to bathe in the river. In faith he obeyed and was healed. Jesus did not hesitate to confront his own people with their indifference and unbelief. Have you looked at where your faith life is? Are you indifferent? Are you lukewarm about your faith, and how you live out your faith? If so, it’s time to set your faith on fire. But you need first to rid yourself of those things which hold you back – whatever they may be. Pray that you will rid yourself of these barriers. Then free from those things which hold us back, may our faith lives flourish and bear much fruit.