Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Lent

Today's Readings:
Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Ps 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23
Matthew 23:1-12


http://www.usccb.org/nab/021908.shtml

Saintliness is not just for the Saints

Are you holy? Don't blush and choke and say, "Nooo, I'm no saint!" Well, don't you believe (as we profess in the Creed) in the HOLY catholic church? Aren't you part of this church? Didn't you receive the HOLY Spirit in baptism?

We ARE holy. We were made holy during our baptisms. However, it's a struggle to be who we really are. We spend the rest of our lives learning how to apply our holy nature to daily situations. We have to work hard to motivate ourselves to act according to the holiness within us.

Saint Serapion the Scholastic (who died in 370 and whose feast day is March 21st) believed: "The mind is purified by holy meditation and prayer, the spiritual passions of the soul by charity, and the irregular [sinful] appetites by abstinence and penance." He lived a holy life because he knew that to resist sin, we have to control our thoughts, nourish our souls, and discipline our flesh-nature so that we become stronger against our vulnerabilities toward sin.

Our minds stray into evil less often when more time is spent praying and meditating on God's Word, God's love, God's will, and everything else that is holy and pure. The spiritual passions of our souls decrease in selfishness when we care about others. We learn to overcome our irregular appetites (the sinful cravings of the flesh) when we discipline our bodies through fasting, abstinence, and penance.

In today's first reading, God pleads with us: "Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good." We want to live this way, but it surely is not easy. We need supernatural help. We need special graces. Praise the Lord, this is exactly what is offered in the Sacrament of Reconciliation! Because it IS a sacrament, it IS an encounter with the supernatural.

God wants to make it easier for us to put away evil deeds and use the gift of holiness that he's given us. And he never asks for the impossible. He's the one who makes saintly living possible. It's up to us to avail ourselves of this help.

"Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow...."

And Jesus tells us in today's Gospel passage: "Whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." The word "exalt" means "to enhance the activity of" or "to intensify." God will enhance and intensify our holiness whenever we admit our sinfulness and rely on the power of his holy sacraments!

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