Saturday of the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time: A renewed and contrite spirit

Today’s readings

This morning, the readings talk about getting it right. They speak of justice and faithfulness and right relationship. All of us who are called to discipleship, which is to say all of us, are called to get this right. In the first reading, the Lord reveals to Ezekiel that each person will be held accountable for his or her own actions, and only his or her own actions. Children need not fear God’s retribution for their parents’ sins, and parents need not fear that their children’s mistakes will be held against them. Instead, each of us is expected to know God’s commandments and keep them, and especially the commandments which call for justice to others and virtuous living.

In the Gospel, Jesus accepts the little children. This is a nice story, but it’s about much more than Jesus loving children. The real message is that Jesus loves all of those who have the faith of children. Most specifically, Jesus is calling us to have that kind of faith in him that recognizes that we can’t always get it right on our own, no; we need the guidance and encouragement of our God to help us with everything that we do.

It is perhaps today’s responsorial psalm that knits this all together completely. The psalmist prays for God’s help to become a more humbled and contrite person. Because we of ourselves can’t always expect to root out the sin that keeps us from lives of virtue. If we ever expect to have clean hearts and renewed, steadfast spirits, it is God that is going to have to put them there. And God longs to do that in each of us. At one time or another, we all struggle with sinful patterns or attitudes. We may try to root those out of ourselves, but to no avail. But if we become like the psalmist and make our sacrifice one of contrition, then God will take the opportunity to renew us and draw us back to himself.

Today, we look to Mary, the model of faith and the forerunner of the sacrificial spirit, and we ask for her intercession that we might become people who offer un-spurnable sacrifice of a heart contrite and humbled.

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