Hebrews 12:1-14 (NRSV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
Luke 18:9-14 (NRSV)
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
How safe and comfortable it is to be a person of faith inside the walls of our church. We worship together, participate in adult education, care for one another, offer heartfelt prayers; we might read the Bible daily or attend mid-week Bible study. It’s all good! But is it enough? What are we called to do on Monday morning outside the boundaries of our faith community? Translating what we learn on Sunday into action on Monday seems like a daunting challenge. And like the Pharisee (Luke 18:13) it is easy to be in judgment about others. Today’s readings indicate that Jesus wants us to get uncomfortable – to step outside the walls of the church, to “persevere” as we confront evil (Hebrews 12:3-5) and to “humble” ourselves before God (Luke18:14).
And how are we to do this? Where do we begin? Fr. Richard Rohr, in his book, The Universal Christ (p.33), says, “Christ is the light that allows people to see things in their fullness. A true Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone.” Rohr believes that this way of seeing the world “demands more of us and gives us no reason to fight, exclude or reject anyone else.”
How can seeing Christ in everyone, everywhere, and everything influence how we understand the world and what we are called to do? With this new perspective how will our relationship with our troubled world be different? What does this mean for you and me today, Ash Wednesday, and next Monday? Is there something you will do differently during this time of Lent?
Dear Lord, you have given us a complicated world that calls us to leave the comfort of our sanctuary and to act. Help us see you in everyone and everywhere. And help us understand how this new way of understanding you changes our relationship with the world outside our walls and guides our actions.
To learn more about Fr. Richard Rohr and his teachings go to The Center for Contemplation & Action https://cac.org/richard-rohr/richard-rohr-ofm/