Thursday, February 07, 2008


Sometimes I wish that I was a Jewish person living in ancient times. Grief was very visible. You ripped your garments, covered your face with ashes and were allowed to wail at the top of your lungs. Grief was very apparent.

How comfortable would it be to have that visible grief. Everyone would know that there was something you were grieving. When Jesus was taken before Caiaphas to be tried, Caiaphas ripped his robes in grief and rage; Job, in mourning, ripped his robes and sat down in a pile of dirt. Grief seems so easy. That outward demonstration of grief clearly showed your inward condition.

However, in last night's reading from Joel, God calls us to "rend our hearts and not our garments." God calls us to tear our hearts in mourning, to tear our hearts in sorrow, in repentance.

Of course, God has always been more concerned with our inward condition than our outward demonstrations. In Hosea he tells us that he desires, "mercy, not sacrifice," and in last night's Gospel reading we heard that we are not to pray outloud on the streets, but quietly, in our rooms.

How fitting for the beginning of lent, the season of reflection and repentance, of mourning, that we are called to tear our hearts in preparation for the tearing of our Savior's.