March 17: Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Gianlorenzo Bernini, Daniel, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome, 1650

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; as though it were holocausts of rams and bullocks, or thousands of fat lambs, So let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame (NAB, Daniel 3: 39-40).

Let us pray.

Father, Bernini’s statue of Daniel in Santa Maria del Popolo might just as well be a representation of Azariah as he prayed to you in the fiery furnace: “But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; as though it were holocausts of rams and bullocks.”

How strange it is, Lord, that in the most difficult situations, when all seems on the verge of being lost, that suddenly we see so much more clearly and that actually things are better than we ever could have thought. It was during the captivity in Babylon, when there was no longer temple or priesthood or animal sacrifice and the offering of incense and first fruits was no longer possible, that it became obvious that the true offering to you, Lord, is a contrite heart and a humble spirit.

Today, in the risen Jesus, we recognize that a contrite heart and humble spirit are really the acceptance of your life, Father, into our own and of our being caught up in your inner life of giving, receiving and sharing in love that is true sacrifice. This true sacrifice, the archetype of all others, is offered to you, Father, in the Holy Spirit through your Word who became one of us and died with and for us. It is the sacrifice made present for us visibly in the Eucharist.

Father, may we realize that there is nothing that we can give you on our own. All we can do is accept with gratitude the life that you share with us. But, once having received life from you through the Word, we are empowered to share that very life with you in the love of the Holy Spirit.

Father, as you heard the prayer of Daniel, and of Azariah in the fiery furnace, hear also our prayer that we too may offer back to you, in sacrifice, through your Word, the gift you give to us: a contrite heart and a humble spirit.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

No comments: