The 2nd Friday of Lent
(Genesis 37: 3 – 4, 12 – 13a, 17b – 28a; Ps 105; Matthew 21:33 – 43, 465 – 46)
The enemies listened to Jesus’ parable but hardly with receptive hearts and when Jesus spoke so pointedly to them “Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit” – certainly their contempt and hatred for Jesus increased.
As for the chief priests and Pharisees, St. Matthew recounts: “And although they were attempting to arrest Him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded Him as a prophet.” It is a damning statement “they feared the crowds” – not God because they thought they had God in their pocket – they were special, above the common folk but they feared for their own necks, their reputation, power. Their fear had to do with self-love, self-idolatry; a fear had nothing to do with righteousness, with honesty, openness, with love…or with God.
Fear can be a nameless tyrant – directing choices, giving advice, keeping one in a kind of prison that blinds and deafens one to reality, to truth, to God. We all have fears – some minor and some major. Sometimes in the course of a confession or a spiritual conversation, this question might arise: what do you fear? What is at the base of your struggles, your sin? Such questions often stop people in their tracks because they never thought to go deeper, to reﬂect on choices, sins. To go through life under the power, the inﬂuence of fear – the inner tyrant – enslaves and can even exhaust one. What the Lord desires for us is the grace of freedom, true freedom to believe, to hope, to love in the most important relationship one can have – caught up in God’s love, mercy, intimacy.
Lent is a gift of God; we are given this holy season to seriously look to and act upon repentance – not just giving up this or that – but much more importantly – what is at the bottom of my negativity, for example, or my selﬁshness, my dishonesty? A serious Lenten prayer might be: “Lord, that I may see so I can know and love You better – Lord, that I can and will see because I know that fear keeps me from You.” It is a cry of poverty, inner poverty, and the Lord hears the cry of the poor – we are truly blessed to know that our God has a preference for the poor, for us.