Purity of intention

12 January OS 2018 – Thursday of the Sixteenth Week of St. Luke; Afterfeast of the Theophany; Holy Martyr Tatiana

Today’s Gospel reading in the daily cycle is Mark 12: 38-44.

The Lord said, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation. And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

We all claim to hate hypocrisy and simultaneously imagine ourselves to be the widows whose houses are being devoured and our adversaries to be the hypocrites who are devouring them. But this only goes to show that we also are hypocrites, does it not? We profess to be Christians but blame others for our problems, which is quintessential hypocrisy, since a Christian knows that his only problem is sin, and that the only person that can really prevent his salvation is himself.

How do we acquire complete integrity of intention and a clear vision of ourselves, so that we may inherit the poor widow’s blessing? How shall we be able to offer to the Lord all that we really can, whether it is great or small, from a pure heart? Well, that is the work of a lifetime, and most people only really get there on their deathbeds, if they get there. But today let’s start with three activities:

1. Pray to see yourself as you really are. Tell God that you are so deluded that you don’t even know how deluded you are. Since this is the truth, it is pleasing to Him, and He will answer your prayer.

2. Usually, bad things will happen to you as a result of doing the above. This is because we rarely benefit from direct illumination, not appreciating it or not even seeing it for what it is, and God knows we have to learn the hard way. Most days it is little bad things, like the children misbehaving or our boss being unhappy with us. Some days it may be something much larger. Either way, Activity 2 is to thank God when bad things – great or small – happen to us, and to observe our instinctive response to these things. This will reveal a great deal about where we really “are at.”

3. Make a careful examination of conscience tonight, going over all of your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions of the day. Ask God’s forgiveness for your failings and thank Him for the good He enabled you to do and for the good things that came your way.

Tomorrow, do 1, 2, and 3 all over again. Purity of heart is on its way!

22.4.2010: Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna

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