April 6/Fourth Saturday of Lent
O searcher of heart and soul, O just God. ~Ps 7:9
I am fortunate to live in a historic city defined by beautiful streetscapes of 18th- and 19th-century architecture. The private homes and public buildings—Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, many of them graced with stately porticos or gracious piazzas—were built centuries ago with durable materials and solid construction techniques. Having withstood natural and human disasters—earthquakes, fires, several wars—they stand as symbols of integrity and durability. Reflecting on what he called the “humane principles of good buildings,” a prominent regional architect writes, “High-quality materials are the building blocks of good buildings and great places.” And, I would add, of holy people.
Our psalmist today prompts us to see God as Examiner-in-Chief, who goes beneath the surface to see what we’re really made of. We may present a facade of success, happiness and virtue, when in fact we struggle with an addiction we can’t dislodge, a broken relationship we cannot heal, a tendency to lie that we cannot correct. No one ever posts pictures of these truths on Facebook!
But God is neither fooled nor impressed by the veneer of accomplishment. (Indeed, as the recent college admissions scandal has shown, something can look impressive on the outside and be completely fraudulent within). Boring down deep, God tests what is truly in our hearts and minds (or in literal terms, “kidneys,” which in Hebrew connote the innermost being). The word that in English is translated as “search”—a verb that in biblical usage nearly always has God as subject—connotes intense scrutiny for the purpose of determining the essential qualities of the thing scrutinized.
God is conducting a deep spiritual analysis of each of us, seeking to determine the integrity of our materials and process. Are we ready?
O God, searcher of the human heart, I pray that I may have the humility to see myself as I am and to fashion my innermost being to be in accord with your will. Amen.
For today’s readings, click here.