23 February 2018 – Friday of the First Week of Lent – The Memorial of St Polycarp (c 69 – c 155) Martyr and Apostolic Father of the Church
Ezekiel 18:21-28, Psalms 130:1-8, Matthew 5:20-26
Ezekiel 18:21-22 – “But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done he shall live.”
Matthew 5:20 – “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Who wants to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Certainly all of us do! That should be our primary goal in life. And, along with that goal, we should seek to bring as many people with us as possible.
Too often we fail to see this as an ultimate goal in life. We fail to keep our eyes on Heaven as the primary reason we are here on Earth. It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day satisfactions of what we may call the “mini goals” of life. These are goals such as entertainment, money, success, and the like. And we can often make these mini goals our only goals at times.
So how about you? What is your goal? What is it you strive for and seek throughout your day? If you honestly examine your actions throughout each day you may be surprised that you are actually seeking unimportant and passing mini goals more than you realize.
Jesus gives us one bit of clear direction in this passage above on how to attain that ultimate goal of life – the Kingdom of Heaven. The path He points to is righteousness.
What is righteousness? It’s simply being real. Being authentic. Not fake. And most especially, it’s being real in our love of God. The Pharisees struggled with pretending they were holy and good followers of the will of God. But they were not very good at it. They may have been good at the acting job, and they may have convinced themselves and others, but they could not fool Jesus. Jesus could see through the fake veneer and perceive that which was underneath. He could see that their “righteousness” was only a show for themselves and others.
And a great part of this, is our relationship with our neighbour – with everyone we come into contact with! This is not easy – “whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift.” So we have been told – this is as clear as daylight – there can be no desenting or pretending – go and do it!
Reflect, today, upon your own righteousness – your honesty and sincerity in striving for holiness. If you want to daily keep Heaven as your ultimate goal, then you must also strive to make each daily mini goal an honest attempt at holiness. We must daily seek Christ with all sincerity and truth in all the small things of life. We must then let that sincerity shine through, showing what truly lies beneath. To be righteous, in the truest sense, means we sincerely seek God throughout our day and make that sincerity the constant goal of our life.
Is there someone I need to make peace with?
Pray for the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Am I keeping my eyes on my ultimate goal
or do I allow this daily life to become the goal?
Fr Nicholas King S.J.
Learn the kindness of the Crucified. His enemies said, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” Not so Christ, but supplicating the Father, He said: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” For if His blood had indeed fallen upon them and upon their children, the apostles would not have been made out of their children, neither three thousand nor five thousand would have believed on the spot. See how barbarous and cruel those were towards their descendants – they ignored even nature itself, while God was more loving than all the fathers put together, and tenderer than any mother.
He did not at once let the chastisement and penalty fall upon them, but He allowed forty years and more to pass after the cross. Our Lord Himself was crucified under Tiberius, and their city was destroyed under Vespasian and Titus. Now why did He allow so long a time to elapse after all these things? Because He wished to give them time for repentance, so that they might put off their impieties and be quit of their crimes. As, having a respite for conversion, they remained in their impenitence, He at last inflicted punishment upon them, and destroying their city, sent them out wanderers over the, face of the earth. And this He did through love. He dispersed them that they might everywhere see that Christ whom they had crucified adored, and that seeing Him adored by all they might learn His power and acknowledge their own exceeding wickedness, and in acknowledging might come to the truth….St John Chrysostom
Support us all the Day Long
Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
support us all the day long
of this troublous life,
until the shades lengthen
and the evening comes
and the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in Your mercy,
grant us a safe lodging,
a holy rest and peace at the last,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.