Throughout history, humans have placed each other before God. In Isaiah Chapter 1, God reminds Israel that God is God. The Lord says, “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.” The Lord laments, saying, “Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”
I often rebel against God and feel estranged. When I am graced by the Holy Spirit, I am reminded that I belong to God and am enveloped by God reminding me who I belong to. God never leaves us alone. God is there to pull us back, reminding us we are not in charge, and helping us find our way back: “I will testify against you, Israel: I am God, your God.” The Lord commands, “wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doing from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” That is what God commands us to do.
In Matthew 23, Jesus preaches against hypocrisy saying that the teachers of the law and the Pharisees “love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.” Jesus tells us that our ideas of what it means to be the greatest are not reality. Jesus tells us it doesn’t work the way we think it does. “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
This Lent, I will try to remember that we are not called to put ourselves first, but that we are clearly called to action.
Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 1:2-4, 16-20, Psalm 50:7-15, 22-24, Matthew 23:1-12