They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger
to move them.
Day Twelve of Lent: Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent – Matthew 23
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them -Matt 23:4.
Today’s Lenten Reflection
The proverbial dry desert of Lent is a familiar terrain for many. In fact, many have probably been traveling through it for quite some time … or at least it seems. As difficult as these seasons are to travel, they almost always end up testifying to the greatest work of human hands. Think about the Egyptian pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and the Sistine Chapel! Whether it’s through sculpting, building, writing, crafting, or painting, in times of trial our work reveals to us what we’re truly made of.
But even though most acknowledge this to be true, think about how often we shrink back from times of testing. We do everything we can to remain in a state of complacency and comfortability that only reduces the opportunities God wants to give us. Human beings like to take the easy route, the path of least resistance, even if that means giving up our freedoms. Such are the times we live in now. But God is always calling us to abandon our safety-nets and to follow Him along the narrow way.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus points to the works of the scribes and the Pharisees calling out their superficiality with alarming clarity, “[T]hey preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry.” This passage serves as a reminder that whether in the desert or on the mountain top, we are always in front of God; and as Christians, we are always called to practice what we preach.
While on earth, Christ acted on every word. He did not shrink back in the face of hardship or trial, in fact He leaned into it even more. Christ promises to accomplish the Father’s great work in us, a work that will ultimately pull us even beyond the grave, but we must be willing to do our part here on earth. We must be willing to carry the Cross through the desert or up the side of a mountain. We cannot be like the Pharisees and Scribes and only put on a good show or preach a good message. God expects us, especially in times of hardship, to trust Him and to give Him everything we’ve got with everything He has given us.
Day 11 Lenten Meditation
Are you in a spiritual desert today? Try putting aside the news headlines or any other distraction(s) causing you to feel anxious or that distract from the things of God. Instead, take a walk, pray, read the Bible, go to a holy hour of adoration, read a good book about the lives of the Saints or history of the Church. Ask yourself what you can do in your life today, no matter the circumstance, that’s not only representative of practicing what you preach but will leave a lasting impact on the world.
Heavenly Father, may Your great works be accomplished in and through us. May we act and move in rhythm with Your creating hand throughout time and eternity, and may we always be strong and courageous enough to obey Your Commands and requests in times of uncertainty. Help us to remain steadfast in faith and to always practice what we preach. Most of all, help us to stay focused on the greater work that You have set out for us to accomplish. We pray this all in Your good and holy Name, Amen.
Today’s suggested Penance
Do something for the greater good in times of hardship. Whatever you choose, make sure that it will leave a lasting impact on someone individually or as a group.
“Eat my flesh,” Jesus says, “and drink my blood.” The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients [from Heaven]. He delivers over His flesh and pours out His blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children” –St. Clement of Alexandria.