Devotional Thought of the Day:
9 Jesus also told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else. 10 “Once there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there. 12 I fast two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, have pity on me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you,” said Jesus, “the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.” Luke 18:9-14 (TEV)
440 Your character is so uneven! Your keyboard is out of order. You play very well on the high notes and on the low notes… but no sound comes from the ones in the middle, the ones used in ordinary life, the ones people normally hear. (1)
As I was driving to breakfast this morning, I notice the shopping center’s construction was well underway. They weren’t building new stores, or making major renovations to the facility. Just updating the frontal facades of all the stores. Trying to make it look less like the 1980’s-1990’s and more modern. The stores themselves won’t change, still a supermarket, a good mexican restaurant, a couple of banks, yogurt shop, coffee shop, etc. The substance will stay the same, only the packaging is changing, and probably at a significant cost to someone. Eventually it will cost the tax-payers and customers of those businesses.
At breakfast, I read an article about the restaurants that get a “make-over” by Gordon Ramsey, the chef and entrepreneur. Over 60 percent of them still fail, even as he invests money in them, making over the restaurant, the menu, the staffs. Even so, there are things he cannot address in one week, the heart and soul of the owners and employees. The substance still stays the same.
Then I read St Josemaria this morning, and the passage from Luke popped into my mind…..
You see, we all put up facades, even those of us who trust in Jesus, and the work He did when He saved us. We put them up, trying to make people think (or even worse – make ourselves think) that everything will be all right, that everything is fine, that all is well in our world. That business as usual is good and prosperous and everything will be all right.
The problem is that facades don’t change the substance, and they don’t really change the image we have of what lies behind it. What was there is still there. If it is poor business practices, it still will be. If it is lousy customer service, well then, that will still be the case. If it is sin, it is sin. Or if it is the missing strings that betray a weak faith in the basic areas of life, then those two will be missing. The pharisee will still be the pharisee, the hypocrite will still be the hypocrite.
Don’t bother changing the facade….it won’t change you! To cause true change, the building has to be leveled, Death must come, and re-birth has to happen. Faith is trusting God to kill us off, and to raise us to life in Christ. Faith is trusting that this is what the cross is all about, that are being unified to that cross in baptism is what this is all about. To know the new creation we have become, is because God has done this. To walk away, knowing that because of His love, God has declared us innocent, clean, His.
He removes not just the facade, He changes more the menu, He takes those who are pharisees and tax-collectors, cuts our their heart of stone… and replaces it with one of flesh. He puts in us His Holy Spirit, who transforms us…..He declares us justified, and holy, cleansed and set apart to walk with Him….
Lord, have mercy on us, poor sinners… and thank you for making us saints! AMEN!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1957-1959). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.