Judges 10 – A Journey of Return
This reflection is written on the first day of Lent but we do not have to wait for the springtime to turn or return to God. Any day of the calendar can mark a day of new beginning. Any day of the calendar can bring us an opportunity to reform. The Book of Judges, as we have commented before, is full of these wanderings and returnings by God’s people. Each of us strays, and each of us has a desire to go home.
The following reflection was written on March 9, 2011 and is posted today as a journey of return . . .
The first reading today is from Joel (2:12-18) and it begins: Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God. Jesus warns us in today’s Gospel (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18): Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father . . . When you give alms, do not let your right hand know what your left is doing, so that your almsgiving may be in secret . . . When you pray, do not be like hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them . . . When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
Jesus is clear about how to behave as we enter into atonement; he is unambiguous about welcoming all of us home. He is also quite plain about how the kingdom benefits when we act in concord as he has asked. Your Father sees what is hidden and he will repay you.
If we hide in dark corners to deceive others or to manipulate and control, all will be revealed.
If we atone quietly and as Jesus asks, all will be revealed.
The Twelve Tribes are led by Tola and by Jair and they flourish. When Jair dies, they turn to idol worship and their lives fall apart. This is not to say that the innocent suffer blamelessly for we have that example in the story of Job. What the story of the Israelites tells us, and what Jesus tells us is this: We have each of us sinned; we have the opportunity to atone with hypocrisy and falsehood . . . or to atone with wholesome intent. As always with God . . . the choice is ours. And today we begin a forty day journey of return.