Monday, November 27, 2006

34th Monday in Ordinary Time (II)
Climbing with Heart and Hands

Readings: Revelations 14:1-3, 4b-5; Psalm 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6; Luke 21:1-4

We may each be conscious of it to differing degrees, but don’t all of us have the desire to climb the mountain of the Lord and to stand in his holy place, to enjoy God’s blessings and rewards, to be saved by God from the various difficulties and trials that assail us? If so, today’s readings help us to reflect more deeply upon how we might see that desire fulfilled.

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place? The one with clean hands and pure heart, who desires not worthless things...

How can we be counted among the hundred and forty-four thousand in the first reading who have the Lamb and the Father’s names written on their foreheads? It’s all got to do with our hearts and our hands.

It’s got to do with allowing God gradually to purify our hearts from the desire for worthless things – that is all things seen apart from God who created them.

And this interior purification finds expression in our hands, that is, in the way in which we live our lives. Consider those in the first reading and the widow in the gospel. The former never allow a lie to pass their lips and no fault can be found in them. The latter contributes all she had to live on.

There is at least one more point that becomes clear when we consider another possible interpretation of the gospel passage. Some scholars say that more than simply praising the generosity of the widow Jesus is actually criticizing the religious structures and practices of his day that require the impoverished to contribute even what they need for their own daily sustenance. In this way, Jesus models for us yet another aspect of the clean hands and pure hearts who gain admittance to God’s holy place. He sees clearly and critiques courageously the evil and injustice around him, even at the cost of his own life.

How does the Lord wish to continue purifying our hearts and hands this day?

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