What a difference a short period of time makes! The job-threatening situation at work has passed. Well, it is mostly past. There are reports to come out and conclusions to be committed to paper, but the result of the investigation showed that all my subordinate managers were not only doing an appropriate job and acting within legal parameters but were doing a good job and displaying good leadership and mentoring skills. So, all is well that ends well, or that at least looks to end well, thank the good Lord. And it wound down soon enough for me to take time off work for the Easter triduum and attend the Masses scheduled over those three days. Good Friday Mass is always one that brings tears even though one knows that it is a sign of redemption and hope, positive things. I was unable to spend much time at the Easter vigil on Saturday because of Doah's allergy to the mission which reared up about twenty minutes into the Mass. Sunday was breathing room only, with people standing all the way to the back of the church and spilling out past the door into the garden, but in a way I like that. It is good to see so many people gathered together in worship.
Now my reading of the Bible, which I continue to stumble through each week, has not kept pace with the events around me. So, I am back at the beginning of Matthew still, closer to the Christmas season than to Easter. Well, it does not matter. All of it has something to say to us regardless of season.
And so I read the third chapter of Matthew. In this chapter, John the Baptist baptizes scores of people, and, toward the end of the chapter, Jesus himself. Among the earlier group of people approaching were Pharisees and Sadducees. John the Baptist tells them that there salvation does not depend, as they appear to think, upon their lineage but upon their repentance, something that they seem unable to grasp.
Reading: Matthew 3
Meditation: I think sometimes we miss the meaning in this passage. I know that I often have to remind myself of it. In today's terms, it does not matter that we are Christian (our lineage) -- and for that matter, at the risk of inviting disagreement, I would add that it does not matter what religion we adhere to -- for our salvation. It matters that we repent of those things that take us away from God, from those things we (and God) call sins.
Sometimes those things, especially the little things, are so tempting. To close our ears when God is asking us to do something we would rather not do. To close our eyes when someone in need is put in front of us and we are too busy or don't have the resources (we think) to help. To keep our lips sealed when just a kind word would help a child of God in some way. To harden our hearts rather than open them to God when it might be inconvenient.
I imagine I am not the only one who gives in to these temptations. Thank God for the grace that forgives me again and again, when I cry in repentance for forgiveness. Thank God for the kindness that leads me back to the path from which I have strayed. (Oh, I can see the Sadducees and Pharisees in myself at times. I don't like seeing that, but perhaps it is the frailty of being human.)
Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning/afternoon. I now retire to private prayer to praise God for His boundless grace. I will, of course, also ask God to help me to avoid those sweet little temptations that lead me into sin, and I will repent for each time I have strayed. As always, I will thank God for each and every tender mercy in this regard. Then I will move on to contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.
I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)
For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.