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Saturday of the Third Week of Lent (2)

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When we focus our religion on us, as the Pharisee did, we no longer have loyalty to God and we despise others. When we focus on God, we see our need of mercy and God's love can then flow through us to others.

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Title

I Desire Loyalty and Not Sacrifice

Outline

There is a human tendency to try to focus our religion on us

For some it is their great leadership or spiritual power seen in apparent spiritual gifts
For others it is their great service or great sacrifices - often the two go together
For yet others they seek for proof in how much better they are than others
But all these and more have missed what the prophet declared: “it is loyalty that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Or, we could say, love of God or a heart that is seeking God or letter God’s love flow through us
The point is that it is not about us but about a deep commitment to God and God alone

Jesus, of course, illustrates this with a story

He “addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.”

The Pharisee was convinced of two things:

(1) he had avoided the gross sins that “those others” had fallen into (including the tax collector whose name he did not know).
He was probably right about his avoiding grosser or cardinal sins. He kept the 10 Commandments and the rest of the Torah. Others thought him an excellent fellow.
Of course, he did not know the tax collector and so did not know his sins and yet judged him as if he were God.
(2) he was convinced that he kept the positive marks of true piety: fasting in mourning for the destruction of the first temple and the desecration of the second temple (sacrifice, even penance) and scrupulous tithing (took effort so that nothing was overlooked or kept back).
But his loyalty was to Pharisaism in that it made him feel righteous - he even recognized this as a gift of God - it was not to God himself. His god was his way of piety and his focus was his own good.

The Tax Collector was convinced of two things

(1) He was at root a sinner - no specific sins are mentioned, so perhaps it was his state of life.
(2) God was merciful - he approached God humbly with contrition
His focus is on no one else than God and then his sorry state in comparison. There were no demands. There was no thankfulness even for the fact that he was repentant. There was no promise of sacrifices. There was just a humble cry for mercy in whatever form God might show it, that is, a heart open to God.
Jesus says, “the tax collector went home justified, not the Pharisee; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Sisters, this is the trap of piety and religion

We know that we are making sacrifices and treading the higher way; we know that the grosser sins are avoided within our state of life. And this is true.
But then we get our eyes off God and on our goodness and especially the comparison of ourselves with another either within or without our state of life.
When we look on others, we can start to feel good about ourselves - “I’m doing OK; God must love me; in fact, he should give me favors.”
When we look on God, we realize how far we have to go to even approach his goodness and how dependent we are on his mercy and we are humbled. In that position he can transform us and we can look on others with his eyes of love and pray for their good. “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

Readings

Catholic Daily Readings 3-26-2022: Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

FIRST READING

Hosea 6:1–6

1 “Come, let us return to the LORD,

For it is he who has torn, but he will heal us;

he has struck down, but he will bind our wounds.

2 He will revive us after two days;

on the third day he will raise us up,

to live in his presence.

3 Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD;

as certain as the dawn is his coming.

He will come to us like the rain,

like spring rain that waters the earth.”

4 What can I do with you, Ephraim?

What can I do with you, Judah?

Your loyalty is like morning mist,

like the dew that disappears early.

5 For this reason I struck them down through the prophets,

I killed them by the words of my mouth;

my judgment shines forth like the light.

6 For it is loyalty that I desire, not sacrifice,

and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Catholic Daily Readings 3-26-2022: Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

RESPONSE

Hosea 6:6

6 For it is loyalty that I desire, not sacrifice,

and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

PSALM

Psalm 51:3–4, 18–19, 20–21b

3 Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;

in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.

4 Thoroughly wash away my guilt;

and from my sin cleanse me.

18 For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it;

a burnt offering you would not accept.

19 My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;

a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.

20 Treat Zion kindly according to your good will;

build up the walls of Jerusalem.

21 Then you will desire the sacrifices of the just,

burnt offering and whole offerings;

then they will offer up young bulls on your altar.

Catholic Daily Readings 3-26-2022: Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION

Psalm 95:8

8 Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah,

as on the day of Massah in the desert.

GOSPEL

Luke 18:9–14

9 He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. 10 “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ 13 But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Notes

Catholic Daily Readings 3-26-2022: Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

SATURDAY, MARCH 26, 2022 | LENT

SATURDAY OF THE THIRD WEEK OF LENT

YEARS 1 & 2 | ROMAN MISSAL | LECTIONARY

First Reading Hosea 6:1–6

Response Hosea 6:6

Psalm Psalm 51:3–4, 18–19, 20–21b

Gospel Acclamation Psalm 95:8

Gospel Luke 18:9–14

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