March 15, 2022
by Mike Cherney
Creighton University's Physics Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent
Lectionary: 231

Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Psalm 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23
Matthew 23:1-12

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The Second Week of Lent - 41 min. - Text Transcript

Why Do I Make My Life So Busy?

The passage from Isaiah is a harsh criticism for wrongs in the past specifically singling out abuses against those least able to defend themselves. The Psalm is an inditement of those who fail to respond authentically to their faith. The Gospel criticizes those in authority for placing recognition and status above a genuine response in service of the community. The common theme seems to be a calling out of hypocritical actions.

I think about how I would have responded to an encounter like that described in Matthew’s Gospel. As an academic I had earned the titles of Doctor and Professor. These are titles of respect, but are they the titles of the servant leader in the model of Jesus? My personal weaknesses become apparent. I know that from the time of my childhood, I have wanted to be the center of attention. I wanted to be recognized. I would have made a great Pharisee. It took the arrival of grandchildren to remind me that my true place is in the very humbling service of changing diapers. I was brought to the realization of the gift of being able to empathize with a child in need. I am reminded of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who when he took office said that he did not want his picture on display in government buildings; instead, he wanted people to hang pictures of their children in their offices and look at them each time they make a decision. As my wife and I prepare for the next chapter in our lives, I think about what will get packed into the moving boxes and consider how unimportant the plaques and physical awards that used to litter my office are. When I lie in bed unable to sleep, I can find myself thinking back on my actions throughout my life. I realize the thoughts that come to mind time after time are “How could I have been so stupid?” and how much I am sorry for things that I have done. Although this may sound somewhat depressing, I think that there may be some consolation in this experience when I recall an insight from Richard Rohr: Jesus is never upset at sinners; he is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners (i.e., those who have not faced their [ego] and often project their evil elsewhere). My sense is that this is the basis of the hypocrisy and lack of empathy with those in need that are brought to the front in today’s readings.

 My prayer today focuses on this Lenten challenge.

Heavenly Father,
You gave us the example of the servant leader in Your Son.
It seems that the faults which disturb me most in others are the faults that I possess myself.
Rather than investing my efforts judging others for projections of my own shortcomings,
Allow me to grow in empathy and respond with service towards those in need.
As my wife and I move on to the next phase of our mission on this earth,
Help us to develop as Your daughter and Your son in this model of service.

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