Daily Reflection
July 15th, 2002
Tom Shanahan, S.J.
University Relations and the Theology Department
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Memorial of St. Bonaventure
Isaiah 1:10-17
Psalm 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23
Matthew 10:34--11:1

The first reading in today’s liturgy from the Prophet Isaiah is a strong indictment against those who offer the customary sacrifices, but do so without heart.  It excoriates those who perform the niceties of the religious feast, but in whose daily lives there is little or no effect.  “I do not delight in the blood of bulls . . . enough of burnt offerings . . .incense is an abomination to me.”  This prophetic message is delivered against the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, but we need to advert to ways that the message applies to us today; it is indeed a strong and compelling message.

What does the message have to say to us today in our present setting?  We needn’t stretch too far to understand its import for us.  We have phrases like “practice what you preach,” and we are especially conscious of persons who have a “holier-than-thou” attitude.

For me the real trick is not to look outside of me but to discover those parts of me that offend in the direction of these challenging sayings.  Where are those parts of me that are content to see the customary religious rites as sufficient in themselves and not as a challenge to my ongoing conversion?

And where does that conversion lead me?  The last lines of the reading from the Prophet spell it out clearly: “Seek justice . . . correct oppression . . .remove the evil of your lives.”  If my religious or spiritual actions do not lead to the creation of a better world (here read the situations of my life), then there’s something radically out of whack.

Lord, help me to seek the grace of knowing where I stand in my relationship with you and with others, especially the poor.  Teach me the justice that you demand of me, and help me to be sensitive to the oppression that has become a commonplace in my world.  Keep me faithful to your message of justice and peace in the world, in the “everyday” of my life.

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