“Come, let us return to the LORD, it is he who has rent, but he will heal us; he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds.” Have you ever had the need to return something? It could have been something you ordered through the mail, or perhaps some food item which was damaged or not all that ripe, or even an entree at a restaurant which just did not make the grade. Why did we do that? We did precisely because it was not acceptable or “good enough” for our use and/or consumption. Perhaps in this Lenten Season, we could apply a similar application to our efforts to return to the Lord what we want to change or reform. None of us can rationally say that we are perfect but we can also say with much assurance that we are in need of transformation all the time, up until the day we die. This is why humility is such a gift and a basic need for the spiritual journey as well, in and outside of Lent.
“Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” From time to time, we are given a unique perspective into the disputes which Jesus faced while He walked the earth. Today in the Gospel we find the haughty, arrogant attitude detailed in one of the visitors to the Temple. He was a Pharisees who were very concerned about the national identity of Israel, rooted in the covenant between God and the Chosen People. The Torah (or Law), contained in the first five books of the Old Testament, gave concrete instructions on how to live the Covenant faithfully. Although they seemed to have meant well, the problem with their position was that their teaching actually robbed the Law – the Word of God, after all – of its dynamism and life-giving power. “Blind guides,” Jesus called them and rightly so because we read today that this particular Pharisee and all his ilk were not justified. Time for a “return to sender.”
For today, how about we send the following: To an enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, our heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To ourselves, respect.