Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
After Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt they were completely dependent on the Lord. They humbled themselves in the light of God’s majestic appearances on Sinai, and agreed to do whatever God commanded. This they did because they desired that God dwell in their midst and protect them. Once God came and inhabited the great Tent in the Israelite’s camp, they began a great cycle of sacrifices to God, showing their acknowledgement of His presence among them.
In the first reading, Azariah admits a complete lack of the external sacrifices by which the people of God can acknowledge His presence and seek His forgiveness. “We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader, no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense, no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.” (Daniel 3:38) The original humility and dependence which the Israelites had at Sinai, however, is what Azariah seeks to offer to God.
The Church finds this prayer so important, that not only is it read at the first reading, but part of it is repeated at every Mass when the priest bows and says “With humble spirit and contrite heart may we be accepted by you, O Lord, and may our sacrifice in your sight this day be pleasing to you, Lord God.”
Let us seek this humility of the children of Israel, of Azariah, when we place our hearts on the altar with the bread and wine. When those gifts are given to us transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus, the Presence of God among us, may we continue to show our gratitude for His generosity in how we forgive and love our brothers and sisters.