When I received the readings I would be reflecting on for Pathways to Lent, I thought to myself how very appropriate for Lent. Today’s readings illuminate the important balance between cultivating our own spirit and relationship with God while also serving and acting with others.
In today’s Gospel reading, the Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” So we know that as followers of Jesus, there is space for all—sinners and non-sinners alike.
Lent is a time where we are called to reckon with our sins and to turn to a new path. We do this in different ways: adding a new practice of prayer, turning off our cell phones a little earlier every night, or denying ourselves the delight of chocolate. For me, these small actions help renew my spirit and become a new version of myself and draw closer to God.
Psalm 51:1-10 beautifully encapsulates the prayer many of us have during this season of Lent: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” Yet, Isaiah 58:1-9 cautions those who think that those small acts are enough and chides those who fast, but still perpetuate injustice and evil. Isaiah 58:1-9 pushes us to think beyond fasting and living humbly. As Christians we are called to act. God implores His followers to set the oppressed free and share food with the hungry. We are called to act boldly—to speak aloud and shout like a trumpet! Only when we act in the spirit of God will we be set free and and then you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 58:1-9, Psalm 51:1-10, Matthew 9:10-17