Thursday, March 30, 2017

Testify to God in All You Do

Found on Facebook

By Beth DeCristofaro

The LORD said to Moses, "I see how stiff-necked this people is. Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation." But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying, "Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand? … So the LORD relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people. (Exodus 32:9-11, 14)

Jesus said to the Jews: "If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true. … "I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? (John 5:31:41-44)

O God, help me to turn away from my own molten calves, formed and forged through sin, inattention, and the hardness of my heart. Help me to loosen my stiff neck and soften my heart that I might hear, see and reflect the presence and will of God around me. On you, Brother Jesus, I rely and I follow, that by your testimony I might be a true daughter/son of the Father.

Jesus deliberately continues his Father’s work, through teaching, through Jerusalem and the temple leaders, through the cross. We, in Lent, try to accompany him with the wisdom of centuries to help us. In the Gospel he speaks to the leaders using their norms – two witnesses were needed to prove that someone is telling the truth. Jesus challenges them that John as his first witness was unheeded and now the witness of God Himself as seen through Jesus’ actions and teachings are likewise discounted, ignored, put aside. Jesus warns them that as they claim to follow Moses he knows that, in fact, they want acclaim for themselves. The leaders force regulations on the Jews, wear special clothing, pray and donate publicly in order to be praised. He put their hardened hearts and limited hearing of the words of the prophets next to their blindness at recognizing the hand of God in their midst.

But God is merciful and full of kindness. Even as the Israelites worshiped a molten calf – at the foot of the holy mountain where Moses was convening with God – Moses advocates successfully for Divine mercy. Jesus, too, in action and word, is filled with mercy which the leaders of the temple cannot accept. In these last weeks of Lent, as we practice penance, fasting and tithing, have we also found new wells of mercy and love within ourselves?

Every day I skirmish with my own lack of mercy, so quickly and easily criticizing others. Recently I read a bio of St Aloysius Orione. An Italian priest, he dedicated himself to the physical and spiritual support of those in need (whom Jesus would have called the anawim in ancient Palestine.) St Aloysius was known to have prayed “Lord, set me down at the gates of hell so that by your mercy I may keep them shut against all comers.”[i] His words humble and dumbfound me. May my Lenten journey bring me one trembling footstep closer to such unconditional love.

How might I put away “right practice” and “accepted cultural norm” today in order to open my heart and ears to the Word on my own interior mountain of God placed within by the Spirit. Help me to rely on my brother Jesus, walking ahead of me and all peoples who seek God?

[i] “Blessed Among Us: St. Aloysius Orione, Give Us This Day. Liturgical Press, March 2017, p. 138.

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