Scripture for the Day
St. Johns Episcopal Church Lenten Meditation for March 25, 2017
Hosea 6:1-6, PS 51:15-19, Luke 18:9-14
Hosea’s plea to Israel is that God desires them to be merciful and acknowledge Him, rather than offer sacrifices and burnt offerings. This is repeated by the Psalmist saying that the sacrifice God wants us to make is for our hearts to be broken and contrite. In Luke 18, Jesus compares the self-righteousness of the Pharisee with the brokenness of the tax collector, who admits his sin and begs God for mercy. Jesus declares the tax collector as justified before God and goes on to emphasize that humility is the key.
As David Brooks writes about St. Augustine’s change of heart and new way of life in his book The Road to Character (quoting another author first):
“The problem with the willful mindset is, as Jennifer Herdt put it in her book Putting on Virtue, ‘God wants to give us a gift, and we want to buy it’. We continually want to earn salvation and meaning through work and achievement. But salvation and meaning are actually won, in this way of living, when you raise the white flag of surrender and allow grace to flood your soul.”
The surrendered posture “flows from an awareness of need, of one’s own insufficiency. Only God has the power to order your inner world, not you. Only God has the power to orient your desires and reshape your emotions, not you. This posture of receptiveness, for Augustine and much Christian thought since, starts with the feeling of smallness and sinfulness one gets next to the awesome presence of God. Humility comes with daily reminders of your own brokenness. Humility relieves you of the awful stress of trying to be superior all the time. It inverts your attention and elevates the things we tend to look down on.”
Thanks be to God for His saving grace, for His Son who teaches us, and for their Spirit who heals us.