Daily Reflection
March 2nd, 1999
Stephen T. Kline
Public Relations and Information
Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Matthew 23:1-12

Today's readings are hard-edged, clear, uncompromising.  No comfortable ambiguity.  No "ifs, ands or buts," as my mother used to say.

My habit when I encounter readings like these is to think first of all the people I know who ought to read and heed them.  It is so easy to become lost in finger-pointing and blame-placing.

Fortunately, I eventually get around to realizing how much the readings apply to me.  They are not about condemning one or another group -- they are about taking stock of my behavior in light of the word of God.  These seemingly harsh words are about the ragged edges of life, the places where I encounter God, the places where my choices make a difference in the lives of others.

There is a cliche about walking the walk instead of talking the talk.  What comes after I say I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus?  How and why do I say that, and what difference does it make in my life?  Today's readings offer some fairly obvious clues.

The messages take on a particular clarity during Lent.

"Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow."

Isaiah has a talent for keeping it simple.  And could anything be more straightforward than the words of Jesus?

". . . you have but one father in Heaven."

In the end, what at first appears to be a harsh challenge is in reality a gentle invitation to allow faith, compassion and kindness to rule my days.

How could I ask for more?

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