For Holy Week and the final week of the CACG Daily Lenten Reflection Series, we will feature reflections by Christopher Hale, the executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.
As we enter more fully into this most climatic week of the Christian calendar, we are reminded in today's Gospel that a true conversion happens from the inside out.
Judas--who all of history conspired against to make the greatest traitor in human history--accosts Mary, the brother of Lazarus, and tells her to stop anointing Jesus with expensive oil and instead sale the oil and give the proceeds to the poor.
As Scripture tells us though, Judas didn't really care about the poor. Instead, he would likely try to steal the proceeds for himself.
Judas was outwardly righteous, but inwardly broken. Though we can never imagine ourselves betraying the Lord, all of us have some of Judas in us.
There are parts of us that are not yet fully redeemed and fully converted. Though we began the Lenten season with the exhortation of Joel to render our hearts and not our garments, we often find that our hearts don't give in so easily.
Have you, like me, been guilty of rendering only your garments to the Lord this Lent?
Let's take these last few days of Lent to reject artificial penance without guarantees for the future, formal and fulfilled fasts which continues to keep us satisfied and superficial and egoistic prayer which does not reach the depth of our life to allow it to be touched by God.
At the core, you and I are sinners. We have fallen short of the life God has dreamed for us. If there is any week to acknowledge this reality, this is it. This is the reality of our human condition. This is the truth that can bring us closer to genuine reconciliation with God and with each other.
It is not about ruining self-esteem but about penetrating the depth of our hearts and of assuming the mystery of suffering and pain which has bound the human race since the beginning of time.
Yes, we are sinners, but we are loved sinners redeemed by God in Jesus Christ.When we render our hearts, not our garments, our lives are transformed by the Lord. Only in a broken and open heart can the merciful love of God enter, who loves and heals us.
When we are converted on the inside, then our actions can become truly righteous and genuine. We should never forget the words of St. John Chrystodom: “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great”
Friends, this Holy Week is not only for us, but also for the transformation of our families, our communities, our Church, our country and of the whole world. They are seven days to be converted to the very holiness of God; to become collaborators who receive grace and the possibility to reconstruct human life so that every man, woman and child will experience the salvation that Christ won for us with his suffering, death and resurrection.
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