The Scripture readings for today leaves me, at first, perplexed. In the first reading, the prophet Joel has all these action words to be done publicly: blow the trumpet, proclaim a fast, call an assembly, gather the people, notify the congregation, assemble the leaders… Yet, in the Gospel, the public actions of giving alms, fasting, and praying are all condemned by Jesus. In fact, he calls people who do these things a hypocrite. A hypocrite?!
Jesus asks, instead, that we give alms, fast, and pray in secret…and that these practices done in the quiet would be repaid…that we’d get something back of equal or greater value in return of what we put in. In other words, be made fruitful.
So when should something be done in a public way versus in a private way? How exactly are we called to witness? What’s the Lenten practice we are invited to?
As I ponder this question, I’m struck by the call to “rend your heart” from the prophet Joel. To rend your heart is to tear it apart. I tear apart my home when I’m looking for something that I know is here somewhere, but I can’t seem to place my hands on it. I tear apart this scripture passage to see what else might be there that I don’t quite see just yet.
And I notice that there is deep hope and confidence that we will find what we’re looking for if we just pursue the search.
What do you think that is? And how is this pertinent to the actions and witness we are called to do and give?
We know that our hearts keep us alive biologically. It is, in a sense, the source of life. It’s also where we attribute feelings of love. So, for the body, it’s the source of life and love. Well, God must reside there then because God is love and giver of life.
Could it be then that if we rend our hearts this Lent, we would find MORE capacity to live and love as God would want us to? Could this be the source of how we are to witness and what we are to do in this season of Lent?
As we move from listening to the Scriptures, and discerning how it intersects with our lived experiences and faith tradition, and move into action… May what we do, and say, come from this greater capacity for life and love that is found in the heart, where God resides deep within us.
May it give witness to our true communion with God, with one another, and with all of creation. And may this guide our actions so we can be authentic witnesses and not be a hypocrite.
Rose Lue is a community organizer, justice advocate, and spiritual companion. She is passionate about people, community, and fullness of life. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a missionary doctor longing to provide healing and care to those who live on the margins. She still dreams of doing just that even though she ended up with a graduate degree in Pastoral Ministries instead of Medicine. (She is still laughing with God about this.)
Rose is an Advanced Lay Leader in the Diocese of San Jose, California, which means she has completed 7 years of formation along with the candidates for permanent diaconate. Rose currently leads the mental health ministry at her parish, serves on the diocesan committee for Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and the strategy team for Silicon Valley Sponsoring Committee (a group that’s growing a broad-based organization in the Bay Area). She is also a co-founder and leader of the Student & Alumni Network for the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries at Santa Clara University, board member of Bay Area Conference for Associates and Religious, Notre Dame High School in San Jose, and now Future Church.
She is also a wife, mother to three, and an active long-time member of St. Simon Parish in Los Altos, California. In her spare time, she likes to play games, various sports, and be outdoors.
The second of three volumes from the Catholic Women Preach project of FutureChurch offers homilies for each Sunday and holy days of the liturgical year by Catholic women from around the world. The first volume for Cycle A received awards for best book on Liturgy from both the Association of Catholic Publishers and the Catholic Media Association.
“Catholic Women Preach is one of the more inspiring collection of homilies available today. Based on the deep spirituality and insights of the various women authors, the homilies are solidly based on the scriptures and offer refreshing and engaging insights for homilists and listeners. The feminine perspective has long been absent in the preached word, and its inclusion in this work offers a long overdue and pastorally necessary resource for the liturgical life of the Church.” - Catholic Media Association
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