|1 Kings 8:22-23,
Psalm 84:3, 4, 5, 10, 11
What a great gospel reading for “Fat Tuesday,” the day before Lent begins! Jesus labors to open the Pharisees’ eyes, to move them from their insistence on external observance to a focus on “the heart.” Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the season often associated with “doing something more,” or “giving up something.” Most “veterans” of the season know the pitfalls of focussing more on our doing than God’s doing in this season of grace. We welcome Jesus’ call.
Jesus’ quotation of Isaiah sets the tone: “This people pays me lip service but their heart is far from me.” Jesus tries to focus them on the question: “Where is your heart? What do you truly love?” The heart’s nearness to God, the question of who or what we love, is always the Lenten question, no matter what we “do” or “give up.” We’ll be with those whom we love, we’ll do things we love, we’ll give up things that get in the way of our loves. But who/what do we truly love?
In other words, Lent is less a matter of “furniture moving” or “apple polishing” than it is a call to “heart surgery.” The truth is that we all love many things, people and circumstances more than the living God. That needs to be healed if we’re going to really live.
Let the Lenten cry begin, even in the midst of Mardi Gras:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God.”
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