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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Lenten reflection, day 12

Scripture readings for today: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20; Psalm 50; Matthew 23:1-12 

Jesus and the PhariseesThe scribes and Pharisees are the group in the Gospels everybody loves to hate. The word most often associated with them is hypocrite.

In today’s Gospel passage the scribes and Pharisees are described as “fond of places of honor at banquets and the front seats in synagogues.” They “bind up heavy loads . . . while they themselves will not lift a finger to budge them.”

In our zeal to identify this group’s disease, we often miss the fact that they are really not bad people. Jesus actually approves of their teachings. The indictment Jesus makes is this: “Their words are bold, but their deeds are few.”

They say a lot of the right words; it’s just that the words never penetrate deeply enough to affect their actions.

Recently I heard the religious landscape of the United States described as “about 3,000 miles wide and three inches deep.” We don’t lack variety but depth.

Lent is an opportunity to let the Lord take us into deep water—to let the Word not only inform but also transform us so that our actions are affected. Today’s Lenten prayer might be, “Lord, make me a person of depth in You.”

Father Philip Dabney, C.Ss.R.

Download our 2015 Daily Lenten Devotions booklet here.