It is 10th March 2018. The readings are from Hosea 5:15-6:6; and the Gospel from Luke 18:9-14. Are we faking our penance and sacrifices? The readings address the true and false penance as we are in the Lent. Our fasting, praying, mortifying, penance and sacrifice needs a sincere and honest intentions in our hearts. Our longing to be noticed, appreciated and being superficial fakes the meaning of what we do. In the first reading, the prophet Hosea admonishes the people of Israel to examine the quality of sacrifice whether it is out of love or for seeking human appreciation. God wants love not just sacrifices that are fake and false. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hos.6:6). It is indeed a strong reminder to all of us during the Lent that our sacrifices must be just not temporary and peripheral rather whatever penance we do let us make it for the love of God. We cannot acknowledge God, if we do not have the sufficient knowledge and love of God. God can accept our sacrifices and penance, when we ourselves have forgiven other in our hearts. The awareness of grace-filled presence of God is the knowledge that we all need to aspire as we attempt sincerely to do penance and sacrifice. The responsorial Psalm acclaims, “What I want is love, not sacrifice!” (Hos.6:6). The Gospel presents with the story of two men in the Temple and the disposition of their hearts in worshiping God. One is blabbering about himself; another is acknowledging his sinfulness. One justifies himself; another is justified by the Lord. One exposes his so-called goodness while the other disposes his pride and sinfulness. One is distracted in his prayer and the other man is attracted to the forgiveness of God. One exalts himself parallel to the righteous man; another humbles himself to the lowest to acknowledge how righteous God is. One wanted to remind God to be grateful for what he is; another reminded God to be merciful. The one of them whispered a prayer: “O Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.” (Lk.18:13). We cannot be insincere to God and God has no time for such things. How genuine are we in relating with God and with one another? Let us tear our masks in our worship and relationships. The courage to tear the masks comes by genuine, humble, contrite spirit and sacrifices. May the Lord bless all our efforts during the Lent and continue to strengthen us to come closer to God and one another. May you have a good day. God bless you.

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