Monday of the First Week of Lent
Readings: Leviticus 19: 1-2, 11-18 and Matthew 25: 31-46.
"The Lord spoke to Moses, saying ‘Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.’”
On the Saturday after Easter, when I was seven, I pedaled my bike to St. Vincent’s in a white blouse and skirt for my First Confession. I believed with all my heart that by confessing the sins, which had accumulated since my baptism, and receiving absolution, my state of holiness would be restored. I practically floated home, and I felt my own rebirth on that golden spring morning.
Once I shed my white clothes, the holiness began to vanish as I slighted the unpopular neighbor and challenged my brother to a dishtowel fight. Why had I moved away from God’s holiness so quickly, and how many days until my next confession?
God asks us to live into our holiness with a constancy that is challenging. In Leviticus, He speaks to us through Moses with precise moral rules. We are told what not to do and how not to act in language that can feel rigid and shaming. How can we accept these instructions as God’s invitation to draw closer to His presence?
In Matthew’s Gospel, we are asked to account for how we lived in God through our corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. How do we love our neighbor—the new widow with three children to raise, the foreign born cashier who speaks and dresses differently, or the same scruffy guy on the corner whose vacant gaze no longer registers empathy in us?
Each day invites a fresh start to behave as our best selves and to honor the holiness God calls us to be. How will you learn to live in God, to claim your holiness in your love of God and neighbor?
Lou Anne Sexton’84