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 desert of Lent more than likely feels very familiar to us. Many of us have been traveling through it for quite some long time … or so it seems. But no one can argue against the great works of human achievement that has come forth from times of testing. Think about the Egyptian pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and the Sistine Chapel. Whether we sculpt, build, write, craft, or paint, our works reveal to us that we were made for more. But think about how much of our time and energy is spent on things that do not last? How often do we reduce the importance of our God-given gifts and abilities for fleeting, temporal platitudes, flashes of passion and ego that bear nothing in the arms of time, eternity and the greater good?
In today’s Gospel, Jesus points to the works of the scribes and the Pharisees, calling out their superficiality with alarming clarity: “…they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry … All their works are performed to be seen … They love places of honor.” We are always in front of God, and in front of Him we are called to “practice what we preach.”
Thankfully, Jesus does far more than just preach to help us through our times of testing and with specific God-ordained tasks. Unlike men, Christ acts on every word He preaches and re-harnesses each one of us to the eternal and creative force of God. Restrung with the Cross, Christ promises to accomplish the Father’s great work in us, a work that will ultimately pull us even beyond the grave, so long as we do our part. We cannot be like the Pharisees and Scribes by only putting on a good show on the outside. We must do whatever God has asked us to do.
Day 11 Lenten Meditation
Do you find yourself in a spiritual desert today? Try to put aside the news headlines and other things of this world that cause you to feel anxious and ultimately distracts from greater works of God. Instead, go back to the basics – take a walk and pray; read the Bible; go to a holy hour of adoration; pick up a new spiritual devotion; read a good book about the lives of the Saints, etc. In tandem with strengthening your spiritual muscles, revisit an old passion that you love such as drawing, painting or sculpting. What can you do in your life today that is not only representative of “practicing what you preach” as a Christian but also leaves 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 ever-creating hand throughout time and eternity, and may we always be strong and courageous enough to obey Your Commands and requests. Help us to remain steadfast in faith, practicing what we preach, and to stay focused on the greater work You have set out for us to accomplish here on earth. We pray this all in Your good and holy Name, Amen.
Today’s suggested Penance
Do something for the greater good, something that 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.