One Minute Reflection – 26 August – Monday of the Year in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Matthew 23:13–22 and The Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa
“And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.” … Matthew 23:18
REFLECTION – “Consider this analogy. Think of the altar as the heart and the temple as the whole of Scripture. The temple of God’s glory, spiritually understood, is the divinely inspired Scripture. The gold refers to the meanings it conveys. To swear is to witness to the Scriptures, as a validation and confirmation of the word we speak. Therefore, we ought to profess the whole sense of Scripture, as a confirmation of the sense which we invoke, in all of our words.
…The temple, that is, the reading of the Scriptures, makes a great and venerable sense, just as consecrated gold is valuable. So we ought not to swear by our own intellects to confirm our beliefs, as if we were creating witnesses that could judge according to the truth. But let us explore further the analogy of the temple, the gold and the altar. The altar is the place where a vow is sanctified. The altar in this passage is the heart of a man. What happens in the heart happens deeply within a person. Vows and gifts placed on the altar are clearly those placed upon the human heart. When you begin to pray, you place the vow of your prayer upon your heart, as if you had placed something upon the altar, so that you might offer your prayer to God.
Suppose you are ready to place an offering of psalms upon your heart, so as to offer to God an offering of psalms, accompanying yourself with a harp. Or suppose you are ready to give alms. You make an offering of alms upon your heart, just as if you had placed something on the altar, as you would offer your alms to God . Suppose you have proposed to fast, in order to make an offering of your fasting upon your heart, as if you had placed something upon the altar.
In this way the heart of a man makes vows in a holy and venerable way. It is from the heart, that is, the altar, that the vow is offered to God. Therefore, it is not possible for the offering of a man to be more honourable than his heart, from which the offering is sent up.” … Origen (c 185-253) (Commentary on Matthew, 2)
PRAYER – Lord, be the beginning and the end of all that we do and say. Prompt our actions with Your grace and complete them with Your all-powerful help. Fill us with the grace of Your true love, that our hearts may be made of flesh and not of stone. May our hearts, minds and souls belong to You alone. May the guiding hand of the Mother of Your Son lead us, with unfailing tenderness, to You. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, ‘totus tuus’ Maria – please pray for us, amen.