Friday after Ash Wednesday
Who shall know the mind of God? No one really, God's thoughts are not our thoughts; God's ways are not our ways. I find the reading from Isaiah rather interesting today. It confirms for me something about my faith that I have struggled with for many years, the idea of doing things to be seen rather than doing things to make a difference.
In recent years there has been a movement among some to kneel down or bow profoundly when receiving communion. There are those in high places who commend this practice and there are others who think all should be doing this. Now I truly believe that when we receive communion, we should do it reverently. That said there are many ways to be reverent. If we were to apply Isaiah's words in the first reading to the action of receiving communion, they might sound something like this, "Do you call receiving communion in this way what I want? This rather, is the receiving communion that I want, I want you to receive and then take me into the world, help others, be the presence of God everywhere you go." In other words, as Isaiah reminds us God is not about rituals, God is about actions.
How ever we receive communion is not the point – it is what we do once we receive the Lord. It is how we treat people that makes all the difference. God does not put a lot of importance in the "show" of things, but in the "how" we do it, in the "what" we look like when doing it, in how many people see it, in the how reverent it is. God puts value in the way we live our faith, the way we interact with the world, the way we treat others, the way in which we bring God's compassion and mercy to the world.
In the Gospel, the religious leaders are once again hung up on the rules, regulations and rituals but Jesus is about the living of life. Jesus is about recognizing God in our midst. Lent keeps reminding us that our thoughts are not God's thoughts and our ways are not God's way, yet we have the opportunity to recognize the presence of God in our life and change the way we think and the way we act so that we are about God and not ourselves.
Have a great Friday everyone and may the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in your heart!
Father Paul Fagan, C.P.