Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Matthew 23:1-12


Who says that God does not listen to us? Today the prophet Isaiah calls us to cease to do evil and learn to do good.

The prophet has God speak to us in fairly familiar terms. “Come now, let’s talk this over says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be whiter than snow.”  We are invited to a time for conversation, a time to dialogue which means two persons talking with each other. It’s a beautiful invitation to look at what is happening in our lives with fresh eyes.  Jesus is addressing “the people and his disciples”. And he has a few things to say about the leaders of the Jewish people. He says: “The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but don’t be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach.”

Can we not apply his words to our assessment of our leaders and their leadership in both our church and our society? We should practise what we preach. We should make sure that, more often than not, our words and behaviour fit together. I guess the guide that Jesus offers us entering Lent applies to each of us whether we are leaders or teachers or priests or bishop or Pope.  I guess that one of the hardest lessons that Jesus teaches is how to deal with authority and how to deal with other people in our lives. Jesus tells me clearly where we need to stand.  “The greatest must be your servant!

He tells us where to stand because where I stand determines what I see, and what I see shapes what I do. The wonderful little Brazilian Bishop Helder Camara tells us: “If you want to know how important you are, try standing at peak hour beside a busy highway to try to get one of the thousands of passing cars or trucks to stop for you.”

Perhaps a good decision for Lent is to base our judgments and our actions on ‘talking things over’ with Jesus. Surely, if we try to do this and make it a habit, it will give us a better view of what is important in life.

Fr. Kevin Dance CP is the vicar of the St.Brigid’s Retreat, Marrickville. He is very actively involved in ministries locally and at Passionist International where he served as the Executive Director for many years.