Saturday of the Third Week of Lent
HOS 6: 1-6
PS 51: 3-4, 18-19, 20-21 AB
LK 18: 9-14
“For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice” At first this may seem counterintuitive. The three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. But today, Hosea is telling us that God does not want our sacrifices.
So if God is not asking us to give things up, then what does he want from us this Lenten season Maybe He is asking us to examine our motivations. Did I give up chocolate for Lent because I think that is what God wanted from me? Or do we make these Lenten sacrifices in an effort to deepen our relationship with God? This idea is further explored in today’s Gospel. Jesus critiques the actions of the Pharisee. The Pharisees, as we see throughout the Gospels, have a tendency to simply go through the motions and do all the “right” things: pray, fast, give alms, and follow the rules. It seems as though the Pharisees are just going through the motions to appear holy to others and make himself feel better. Jesus juxtaposes the prayers of the Pharisee with those of a tax collector, who seems to pray with earnest as he recognizes his mistakes and asks for mercy. Here we are given examples of two types of sacrifice. The Pharisee is praying for his own self-righteousness. This is the type of sacrifice Hosea is telling us God does not want; it is not all about us. On the other hand, the tax collector is praying honestly and trying to deepen his relationship with God. This is what God is asking us to do. He wants us to love Him and have our actions reflect that love of Him.
So what exactly does it mean to act out of love? God is asking for our love. God does not want us to go through the motions. It is easy to take an hour and show up to mass, but how often are we really there? If someone asked you what the readings or homily was about when you walked out of mass, would you be able to answer them? Or are we preoccupied thinking about that meeting tomorrow or the exam on Wednesday. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes my mind wanders and I start to tune out during mass. Today’s readings remind us that God is asking for our attention and devotion. God is asking for love, not sacrifice. He does not want us to just show up for an hour, but to really be present and participate. This Lenten season, may we work to be more attentive to God and focus on acting out of love, rather than simply going through the motions, as it is so easy to do.
Maggie Carvill is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying Biochemistry and French.