Daily Reflection
April 1st, 2000
Mike Cherney
Physics Department
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Hosea 6:1-6
Psalms 51:3-4, 18-21
Luke 18:9-14

Today's readings play down the value of outward signs.  This is a challenge for someone who draws his meaning from his actions.  The importance of love and change of heart are brought to the front.  These demand so much more than the results of my activities.  In drawing meaning from the external it is easy and comfortable to remain in control.  The internal requires trust and submission.  Finding forgiveness in God is easier when I take the role of the initiator.  Accepting forgiveness in a secondary passive role is a greater imposition.

The sacrifices of Lent are the easy part of the task.  Still too often I wonder when my actions flow from a change of heart and when they have become mere obsessive behavior.  Traveling cross country I saw a group from a traditional sect.  They were living their lives as people did a century ago.  I questioned their behavior.  At the same time I found myself challenged to locate a meatless meal on Lenten Friday.  I questioned my behavior.  My understanding of these once foreign people grew in that moment.  My satisfaction with myself did not.  Living with the symbols is not nearly as difficult as confronting what is inside.  I find it far easier to shuttle my children from activity to activity than to focus on their conversation while in the car.

I watch the ads for the political candidates on television.  I become frustrated and judgmental at nearly everything that is said.  I realize that I will likely vote for the candidate with the least airtime.  Am I justified?

The tax collector went home justified.  Pharisee did not.  This is a parable that my children label as just unfair.  My boys are professionals at monitoring each other's behavior.  They are much better equipped to put into permanent memory any character flaw the other may show.  (Why can't they show the same skill in remembering the week's spelling words?)  They enjoy publicly sharing how the other might be a better person.  As a parent, this behavior eats at my stomach wall.  Further reflection is even more disturbing.  Where do they get this world view?  The answer hits too close.

I can admit I am a sinner.  I can be contrite.  But where is my change of heart?  Can't I get by with sacrifice?  I know the answer, but I can still wonder what it would be like if my faith presented less of a challenge.  How will I be a different person for this season?

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