Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent
IS 1:10, 16-20/MT 23:1-12
When I made my first visit to a Dominican community as a college student, I got a tour from one Fr. Walter, a grizzled ninety-year-old navy veteran from the South Side of Chicago. When we were finished, he had one question for me. I expected something about why I wanted to be a friar. I was wrong.
“Why did Jesus make Judas an apostle?
“I, uh, I don’t know, Father. Why did Jesus make Judas an apostle?”
“Jesus made Judas an apostle to prepare the Church for scandal.”
Fr. Walter has seen a lot of scandal and hypocrisy in his days, as has each of us. We know all too well that Jesus’ warnings regarding self-exaltation are not limited to the scribes and Pharisees of his day, but are a message his Church has needed to hear throughout the centuries.
God’s way of revealing himself to the world is full of paradox. On the one hand, he knows perfectly well our capacity for weakness and tendency to betray his message through our actions. On the other hand, he chooses human beings, weak as we are, to proclaim his message of salvation. Our response to hypocrisy, then, must not be to walk away; indeed, Christ says, “do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you.” Rather, each of us is called to be the renewal the Church needs by living the Gospel’s call to compassion and righteousness in all its radicality. This call begins with those of us who bear ecclesiastical titles and dress, but no Christian is exempt from the need of a stiff dose of humility. The Jesus prayer, so dear to Eastern Christians, is an appropriate practice as we continue through Lent: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Br. Peter Lewitzke, OP
Campus Ministry Intern