Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Utterly Amazed

March 8, 2010
Tuesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

For four years I was deprived of eyesight, and all my kinsmen were grieved at my condition. … I called to my wife and said: “Where did this goat come from? Perhaps it was stolen! Give it back to its owners; we have no right to eat stolen food!” She said to me, “It was given to me as a bonus over and above my wages.” Yet I would not believe her, and told her to give it back to its owners. I became very angry with her over this. So she retorted: “Where are your charitable deeds now? Where are your virtuous acts? See! Your true character is finally showing itself!” (Tobit 2: 10, 13-14)

Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.” They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They replied to him, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” They were utterly amazed at him. (Mark 12:15-17)

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for it is from your goodness that we have this day to celebrate on the threshold of the Season of Lent.

Tomorrow we will fast and abstain from meat. Today we feast. We thank you for the abundance of gifts you shower upon us. We thank you especially for one another. As we give you thanks, we are mindful of those who have so much less than we do. As we share these wonderful gifts together, we commit ourselves to greater generosity toward those who need our support.

Prepare us for tomorrow. Tasting the fullness of what we have today, let us experience some hunger tomorrow. May our fasting make us more alert and may it heighten our consciousness so that we might be ready to hear your Word and respond to your call.

As our feasting fills us with gratitude so may our fasting and abstinence hollow out in us a place for deeper desires and an attentiveness to hear the cry of the poor. May our self-denial turn our hearts to you and give us a new freedom for generous service to others.

We ask you these graces with our hearts full of delight and stirring with readiness for the journey ahead. We ask them with confidence in the name of Jesus the Lord.
(From the website for Creighton Online Ministries, http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Lent/bulletin-inserts.html#MardiGras)

Last week we heard the story of the blind man who “saw” Jesus and knew him as a healer. Yesterday we heard Jesus quote Scripture which spoke of the rejected stone which God deems to become the cornerstone. Those who rejected the stone did not see it for what it actually is. Today we meet Tobit who lost his sight physically and morally. Finally, Jesus is confronted with officials of the temple who do not “see” him. They chose to look at him through the lenses of their own hypocrisy much as Tobit accused his wife.

I have to wonder too, with the Pharisees who were utterly amazed at Jesus. Was their conversation marveling or was it more along the lines of “Look at this guy! He weaseled out of the question. He is pretty slick!”? How good I can be at weaseling out of what I don’t want to face up to or own. Or seeing what I want to see, what I’ve decided to see. I must admit, I don’t see myself sitting beside the road calling out loudly “Have pity on me, Lord”.

Lent offers us the chance each year to let Jesus shine a light on what is difficult for us to see. May our Lenten practices this year allow us to see Him better and see ourselves more clearly as being gifted by God.