Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; II Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
About five years ago, we purchased a really good camera. We finally moved from the point and shoot version, to one with so many settings the hardest part when not in “automatic” mode was keeping things in focus. What is your focus each day? Joel tells us, ‘Blow the trumpet in Zion!’ (Joel 2: 15) and yet, in the Gospel, Jesus says, ‘Do not sound a trumpet before you’ (Mt 6: 2). Joel and Jesus are talking to different groups of people. Jesus is talking to those distracted by the things of this world who sound their trumpet before themselves when they enter a house or give to the poor. Joel’s focus and perspective are quite different. Lent is a time for us to refocus our lives on Christ, to make him the center of the picture. We do this by various practices of obedience like prayer, fasting and almsgiving mentioned by Jesus himself in today’s Gospel, which remind us of what is (and is not) really important. And yet we can still miss this message: we can make our doing of these things about ourselves and not about Christ who seeks a changed and contrite heart for each of us. As we receive ashes today or see them on the foreheads of other, we are reminded that ‘We are dust, and to dust we shall return’: in the end there really isn’t much to blow our own trumpet about. Instead, may these forty days of lent help us orient our focus on Christ, so that we can sound with joy the trumpet of his Easter victory, because in the end . . . He is the door to salvation.