Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Third Tuesday of Lent

But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; As though it were burnt offerings 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. And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you. Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.

These words are spoken by Abednego (Azariah) from within Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace after he, Shadrach, and Meshach refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. Knowing their decision could mean their death, these three men trusted God would save them from the furnace if it was His Will to do so. They would rather die than to worship a false god. What courage these men had and though it might be hard for us to realize it, we too are called to be willing to make the same sacrifice. The world offers us many false gods to worship: fame, glory, money, drinking, smoking, TV, music, games, sports, and even ourselves. This is not to say these things are evil in and of themselves (most aren’t), but rather that we avoid making them into idols that are more important to us than knowing, loving, and serving God and others. There are many worldly things that will beg for our attention and distract us from what is right. However, if we are willing to sacrifice all of them for God’s Will. If we are detached from them enough to walk away when they are demanding too much of our time and energy, then we shall find, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that we can withstand the sacrifice. And through this experience of self-surrender, our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies will be purified by the fires of fasting so we can become better almsgivers and prayers.

Are we willing to give up all those worldly things that consume our time, talents, and treasures? How can we learn to avoid obsession and turning goods into idols? What sacrifices can we make today to rid ourselves of those things that have become idols in our lives?

O Lord, give us the strength to make ourselves into a living sacrifices to you and for your children.


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