Every year on Ash Wednesday we hear the same Gospel reading, when Jesus exhorts us to “take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them". As we scratch our heads in confusion, the priest will usually explain in his homily why our wearing of ashes is not what Jesus was talking about (not that it can't be, in some cases).
As Boston mourns the loss of two heroes, Lt Ed Walsh and FF Michael Kennedy, we wanted to offer some words of wisdom on death, and we thought this Scripture passage was perfect for two heroes who sacrificed their lives in a fire.
The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
Before you get worried, let me just say that, no, I'm not suggesting we imitate Judas' behavior. Even though Judas' betrayal of Jesus played an essential role in the fulfillment of Scripture, Jesus is pretty clear in the Gospel reading at today's Mass that "it would be better for that man if he had never been born."
This past weekend, Pope Francis travelled to the Holy Land, where he walked the steps of Jesus, prayed with Muslims and Jews for peace, and met with the Archbishop of Constantinople, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
So with old age is wisdom,
and with length of days understanding.
How does one become a Saint? Well, repentance is step one, of course, followed by faith in Jesus Christ, frequent participation in the Sacraments, and practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. But the many lists of 7 that the Church offers us to help on our path to Sainthood can be daunting, especially if we don't understand how to implement what they call for on a daily, human level. So why don't we take a small step back, and examine a few ways we can reshape our day-to-day practices by looking at the lives of the Saints.
Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit, but we should remind ourselves every day that the Wisdom the Spirit offers us is different than the wisdom of this world. The wisdom of this world tells us to be opportunistic, to boast, to take advantage of others, to put ourselves first, to seek power. This "wisdom" is foolishness to God.
There's a lot of advice out there for avoiding and ending conflict in the workplace, in the family and in other personal relationships. That's great, and can be very helpful, but a lot of that advice tends to come from conventional, worldly wisdom. What if the way we handled conflict was not based in self-interest, but was based on radical commitment to the Gospel? What if we didn't put ourselves first in our personal relationships?
the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
- Matthew 20:28
During Lent, we're called as Christians to practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Mostly we understand why we take on these disciplines. The benefits of prayer are obvious, as are the benefits of almsgiving: giving resources of time and money to the poor and to our communities.