• Maria Knox



A Gospel according to Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

REFLECTION: "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

We are now on day 14 of our Lenten journey.

It is a journey uphill, towards a mountain.We are joining Jesus on his journey up to Jerusalem, to be handed over to the authorities, tried and crucified. And then we will meet him again in the resurrection.

Hiking, mountaineering, or any other outdoor exercise is uncomfortable and trying, and makes us sweaty and sore. And at the end, once we reach a goal, we receive the satisfaction of having accomplished it, and at the same time, our bodies have grown stronger and healthier.

The Lenten journey is uncomfortable. It is meant to help us shed our spiritual weaknesses, and anything else that separates us from God.

One of the hardest things to do, is to recognize that we have failed: failed our family, our friends, ourselves, and God.

In Genesis 4:5-7 we read how Cain is angry and dejected. God has not favored his offering, which was not the best, but the worst of the produce he grew. This anger and frustration eventually led to the murder of his brother.

Most likely we won't go to Cain's extreme. But the anger we allow to grow in us, leads us to say unkind words, and do unkind acts against our brothers, sisters, spouses, parents, children, coworkers, God, ..., even against ourselves.

It is very difficult to recognize when we have done wrong. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of self dominance to accept we are not perfect. Once we stop fooling ourselves, cross the threshold of the confessional, and simply humble ourselves before Christ in the person of the priest, all the wrong is washed away. Our soul finds rest.

I exhort all of us to make a good examination of conscience this Lent. And make a very good confession this month.

Many parishes will be offering Lenten confession services. Most priests have private confessions by appointment if the communal services are at an inconvenient time for us.

Let's not waste precious time. Our journey up the mountain is one third done. God is asking us to humble ourselves. God wants us to be saved, he awaits in the confessional for you, for me, and for us.

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