There’s irony and paradox in hearing Jesus’ instruction to carry out our religious practice in relative privacy—along with the proclamation of Joel 2—on Ash Wednesday. How on earth do we balance the quietness of our hearts with a public call to repentance?
What might change if we could see something up there greater than the suffering world below? If we could get a glimpse of heaven, we would have proof—an experience that we could refer back to for the rest of our lives.
In this week’s Gospel reading, many people praise Jesus’ teaching—until he claims that he is the fulfillment of the scripture he reads. It is difficult for American Christians to grasp how shocking Jesus’ announcement is to a first-century synagogue.