Tuesday of the Third Week in Lent
(Daniel 3:25.34-43; Matthew 18:21-35)
Last month the New York Times reported that “My Way,” the song that Frank Sinatra popularized, has caused fights in karaoke bars in the Philippines. There are no scientific explanations of the violence, but it is believed that the song’s lyrics exude arrogance which provokes reaction. Those words do seem to contradict the Lord’s way as demonstrated by Azariah in the first reading today.
Azariah lives with other Jews in Babylonia. Their homeland has been sacked, and they have been deported. Azariah acknowledges that by not living in the Lord’s ways, the people brought the devastation upon themselves. Now he beseeches God for mercy on all. In so doing, Azariah offers the sacrifice which the prophets called for – hearts contrite and lowly.
Especially during Lent we strive to live what Azariah prayed. First, we acknowledge our sinfulness – not only personal shortcomings but those of the communities to which belong as well. Then we rededicate ourselves to the Lord’s way. There is room for some individualization in repentance if we like to think of ourselves as doing things “my way.” But let us make no mistake, putting too much emphasis on ourselves will like lead away from, not toward, the Lord.