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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Purpose of Penance

"When you fast, do not gloomy like the hypocrites." Mt 6:16

It did not take the church long to place before us a telling and important reminder about penance. Fasting for instance, is not a subtle way to lose weight. Neither it is a practice to give us personal satisfaction or assure us that we are close to God. Fasting, and every other penitential practice, has only one purpose, to draw us into the heart of God for God's purposes, and its value will be known by its fruits.

Are we more just, are we more open to the stories of those who struggle with life and life's most basic demands? Are we slower to judge others? Are we content being God's servants? God's yoke, as Jesus reminds us, is easy. When an ox goes in a straight path, it does not even know it is saddled with a yoke. It simply goes where it is directed. Though a harsh image, imagining God putting the yoke of the gospel around us at Baptism can help us not to struggle against any correction or instruction we receive.

Today, yoke yourself to God and let God lead you.

What is your most difficult "yoke?"

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