Aug 20 2020 Reflection
Thursday 20 August 2020
First Reading: EZ 36:23-28
I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
PS 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
Gospel Reading: MT 22:1-14
Today’s Note: Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying,
“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you. (Ezekiel 36:26)
The prophet Ezekiel was facing a great challenge. The Israelite people had abandoned the ways of God. They had profaned the name of the Lord through their idolatry, and they were also committing a host of injustices against one another. Given how far they had strayed from him, this chosen people clearly must have either doubted or ignored God’s power to save them and protect them from their enemies.
Yet in the midst of this bleak scenario, Ezekiel proclaims a message of hope. God will transform the hearts and spirits of his people. This will be his initiative, not theirs. And through it, God’s holiness will shine forth; it will “prove the holiness of my great name” (Ezekiel 36:23).
When he poured out the Holy Spirit on us at our baptism, God gave us a new heart and a new spirit as well. But he is always seeking to renew and recreate us, and just as in Ezekiel’s time, it is his initiative that brings about this change.
How does he do this? One way is by allowing us to see ourselves as we really are—with all our sins, failures, and weaknesses. As he reveals to us where we have gone wrong, he also softens our hearts. He helps us see how deeply we need to rely on his grace and mercy in our lives.
Admittedly, this can be a painful process. It’s not a superficial repair job; think of it like a heart transplant of sorts. Like any serious surgery, it cuts deep, causing us to confront our sin. But this is precisely what makes it so effective, especially as we cooperate with God’s grace and take steps to repent and change.
We might be tempted to react to God’s “heart surgery” with discouragement or despair. But instead, it should give us great hope and encouragement. God loves us so much that he is always seeking to change our hearts so that he can form us into the people he has called us to be.
“Lord, place within me a new heart and a new spirit. Take from me any hardness of heart that limits your action in my life.”