Homily given during the the March 14 Day of Prayer and Recollection to members of Consecrated Life
I am so glad to be with you at the end of your Day of Recollection to gather with all of you at the altar. It is always the best place to be. And I am so glad you chose to participate in this Day of Recollection during this year dedicated to the Consecrated Life. Most of the religious I know are workaholics and probably do not take care of themselves spiritually they way they should. I am so glad you are here and I hope you do things like this more often! And of course, I greet all of you in the name of Archbishop Carlson.
During these 40 days of Lent we are invited to make that inward journey of the heart and there could be no more appropriate Gospel than the one offered for today – the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee had a heart filled with arrogance and priced. He was not afraid to tell God all the things he had done in life. And in doing so, he failed to recognize that God was the source of all his blessings. We are told in the Gospel, and this is so insightful, the Pharisee prayed “to himself,” and not to God.
Then we have the example of the tax collector. His heart was filled with sorrow and humility. He was so aware of God and how he had failed God that he would not even look up to heaven. All he could do is strike his breast in that ancient gesture of sorrow for him.
You know, there is such wisdom in beginning every celebration of the Mass with the penitential rite. The Church, this Spotless Bride of Christ can be so scandalous because it is composed of human beings. But as long as we are willing to admit our sinfulness and strike our breasts, like the tax collection, the Church will be okay.
The responsorial psalm says it all – it is love, not sacrifice that God desires. A humble, contrite heart is the acceptable sacrifice. Daily we stand between these two hearts, the humble heart and the arrogant heart. Daily we make choices toward one or the other. Those daily choices become easier and easier as time goes on and cam become a rut that leads to vice or a pathway that leads to holiness.
And so it is with other areas of life. We stand between the forgiving heart and the judgmental heart. Daily we made decisions to forgive or hold grudges. Daily we make choices to have a loving heart or a selfish heart. I read once where the opposite of a love was not a hate but selfishness. Daily we make decisions toward love to expands our hearts toward others or selfishness which closes us in on ourselves. Daily we choose to stand in the light or in the darkness. It’s really never over. It’s during the 40 days of Lent, that’s true. But it more than that – it’s the journey of a lifetime.
Maybe at the end of your life, the best compliment any of you could receive is for someone to say, she had a loving heart!