Reflection for Tuesday, March 2, 2010: 2nd week in Lent.

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O'Connor, Roc, S.J.
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It's easy to see that Isaiah is rather perturbed at the people of Israel. He even goes as far as to refer to the leaders as "princes of Sodom" and everyone else as the "people of Gomorrah." Yikes! ||Are we to take this literally? Was everyone in Israel engaging in unlawful homosexual acts? No, Isaiah uses this language to get the people's attention by equating their behaviors with what was reprehensible in S and amp;G.||Let us go straightaway to the first chapter of Isaiah to check the context for such offensive language. Here are two verses excluded from today's selection that help us get a sense of Isaiah's complaint:|Verse 11: "What care I for the number of your sacrifices," says the LORD. "I have had enough of whole-burnt rams and fat of fatlings; In the blood of calves, lambs and goats I find no pleasure ... " |Verse 15: When you spread out your hands [in prayer], I close my eyes to you; though you pray the more, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood! |These lead directly into the passage we have for today's Mass: "Wash yourselves clean! Put away misdeeds ... Cease doing evil; learn to do good!"| It wasn't that long ago that I would have jumped in with my knee-jerk interpretation of verses 16-17. As an Irish-Catholic good boy, I applied all this to impure thoughts (!). Get clean!!! |I get a bit of a comeuppance today as I read the context and the rest of the passage. It's about repenting from injustice and learning to do justice. Hear the orphan's plea (in Haiti ... in Afghanistan); defend the widow (in north Omaha ... in refugee camps in Africa);| Willingness to obey this command leads to the cleansing of sin. It's not an admonition to go to confession (yet I can investigate my unwillingness to look outside my small world in confession), rather a command to respond to what is wrong in the land.|I find it terribly uncomfortable to read the whole darn context of this scripture for today. I'm one who finds it much easier to concern myself with the tiny world of my standing with God. Isaiah calls me to look outside to the world to see the results of my actions, unintended or not. Ouch.|A word of caution: When, in our reflecting on these passages, we substitute “Kingdom of Heaven” for “Kingdom of God”, we can too easily pass the prize off as “pie in the sky when we die”. But Jesus told his disciples to ask God to inaugurate his Kingdom on earth (the Lord’s Prayer). It’s now that we have to reconcile. It’s now that we have to give ourselves. It’s now that the Kingdom can come.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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