Prepare to Listen. Be still and ask: Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
Prayerfully Read Luke 11:37-44
37While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. 38The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you. 42‘But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practised, without neglecting the others. 43Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honour in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the market-places. 44Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.’
“Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid,” wrote Abraham Heschel. It was this danger that Jesus attacked head-on in the Pharisees and scribes of his day. They were meticulous in keeping the miniature of the law, even tithing “mint and rue and herbs,” but neglected “justice and love of God,” the two commands Jesus claimed were the greatest—to love God and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27f). Justice isn’t about meting out punishment to the wayward. In the biblical sense, it has to do with the right ordering of society so that all people, regardless of race, gender, citizenship, gender-orientation, etc., have equal rights and freedom to flourish, in other words, loving them. Love, as Tomáš Halík notes, “is a risky endeavor whose outcome is never certain, a path on which we travel without knowing for sure where it will lead.” But that’s the endeavor we’re called to, following Jesus who, as Richard Rohr observed, “is shockingly not upset with sinners…. He is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners.
Too often we get distracted with our own versions of what matters to God, even when that is barely addressed in Scripture. As a result, we neglect what really matters and what is repeated over and over throughout the Bible, including in the teachings of Jesus himself—love God and love your neighbor by giving them the justice and mercy they deserve and need. That is, giving “for alms those things that are within.”
What are ‘the things within’ you that you give to another today?
Respond to Jesus
Lord, your life on earth lived out God’s passionate concern for the marginalized poor in society. Help me love you by focusing on what you’re passionate about. Amen.
Live obediently. Give for alms those things that are within you.
 Heschel, Abraham. Between God and Man. New York, NY: Free Press Paperbacks. 1997, p. 35.
 Halík, Tomáš. I Want You to Be. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame press. 2016, p. 6.
I began reading my Bible when I was 8 years old. I loved it then (albeit didn't understand much) and I still love reading and studying it. I may understand a little more but I keep learning new stuff, seeing things I missed for years. This journey with Luke during Lent has been another new learning experience for me, deepening my relationship with Jesus. I pray it will do the same for you.