Monday, March 02, 2009

Present to the Presence

Used to be, retreat directors would begin a sermon with the solemn injunction, "Let us place ourselves in the presence of God..." Of course, we are always in God's presence, but not always "present" to the presence. And so we can often do things, make choices, think thoughts, that reflect that lack of awareness. This is what today's magnificent first reading (from the book of Leviticus) addresses.
"Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy." St. Paul put it this way, "Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds, that you may know what is God's will: what is good, pleasing and perfect."
This becomes the basis for all the Commandments, as the Lord details the kind of life he is talking about; the kind of life he himself desires for us. And after every topic, the refrain comes, "I am the Lord."
"....You shall not defraud or rob your neighbor.
You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your day laborer.
You shall not curse the deaf,
or put a stumbling block in front of the blind,
but you shall fear your God.
I am the LORD.

"You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment.
Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty,
but judge your fellow men justly.
You shall not go about spreading slander among your kin;
nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor's life is at stake.
I am the LORD....

....You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord."

The Gospel takes that last line and changes it to, "You shall love your neighbor as Myself": "Whatsoever you do to the least, you do to me." Saul would discover this on the road to Damascus ("Why are you persecuting Me?") and it would change his life forever.


Fred said...

Just thought I would thank you publically on your blog for the "UNMASKING" theme for Lent.I used it yesterday in my homily, connected it to become new in Christ at Easter. People really seemed to have gotten the connection.
Father Fred, CMF

xaipe said...

Oh, Father, I cannot tell a lie. I got this idea from Fr. Lawrence Jadgfeld, OFM in St. Peter's bulletin for Ash Wednesday.

Fred said...

Well, I gave you credit...what do I do now? I got it from you, obviously it came from God who wanted the people to hear it...the source of all good thing. Settled. Thank Father Lawrence!
Father Fred, CMF