TIMING IS EVERYTHING
This past week, we began the season of Lent somewhat differently than in years past—yet that is the “new normal” during these pandemic times. We are doing things differently because we have had to adapt our lives to combat this deadly virus that continues to disrupt every facet of our lives.
On Ash Wednesday we were able to celebrate Mass but without an assembly and without distributing ashes. Although we are able to distribute the ashes on this, the First Sunday of Lent—we may think that we have started this holy season on the wrong foot—I would argue that this will be a very different Lent and the timing of this is perfect for us to deepen our faith and experience conversion.
DISRUPTIONS ARE GOOD
I am sure that we are all tired of the disruptions, changes and sacrifices that we have all made in this time of chaos but isn’t Lent all about disruptions? That’s why I think this is the perfect time for this most holy season. We need to look at this sacred time as a chance to re-establish a solid, powerful and meaningful connection with God and with one another. This sometimes happens best when everything else is in a bit of chaos. We recognize that we do not have control and this becomes the perfect time to turn to the Lord and say—help! We can have Jesus assist us in putting things back in an order that places our faith first, surrounded with family, friends and service to those in need closest to our hearts. This is not an easy thing to do but one that can really sustain us through the most challenging of times.
“COME BACK TO ME”
How do we do this? Our new Lenten message series can definitely help us in reorganizing and prioritizing who and what takes the most important places in our lives. It all starts with the opportunity to run back to the Father in heaven. During this message series we will be looking at ways that we can turn back to Him who loves us no matter what and who provides everything that we need. The hard part is letting go and trusting in the Father who knows best. This of course takes time but together as a community of faith, even in the midst of the pandemic, we can assist one another in the journey to the Father.
HEARING THE CALL
On Ash Wednesday I began the message series with the homily entitled “THE CALL”. The season of Lent is that chance to hear our Father and Creator calling us back to Him. We heard this clearly in the readings for this special first day of Lent. We heard in the first reading from Joel:
“Even now says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning, rend your hearts not your clothing.”
The call of the Father is to change our hearts, letting go of bitterness, pain and sorrow and fill it with the Father’s love that is most fully expressed in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The Father calls us, reaches out to us and never forgets his covenant, a commitment to always offer what is best for us. Are we open to hearing this call in our lives today? Can Lent be that time of change for us? The Lord is calling but are we listening?
A COVENANT OF LOVE
As we now enter the First Sunday of Lent, we are reminded of this everlasting covenant, a bond of love between the Father and all of humanity. God promises to always be there for us, taking care of us and guiding us and we, the children of the Father will always trust in Him and follow His commands. This covenant is not a contract, for when a contract is broken the agreement is null and void. This promise, rooted in love, is always in place and despite the fact that we so often break this commitment and fail to love, God is always faithful and will always take us back—if we return to Him. This covenant is forever!!!
HOW CAN WE RESPOND?
The season of Lent is a time for us to respond to God’s call to come back to Him, changing our ways by truly changing our routines and priorities. This is not an easy task but one that takes time, training and a choice each and everyday to follow the Lord. Here are a few ways we can start responding and change our ways:
We need to pray more during this season. This includes personal daily prayer, joining the Prayer Line, watching our previous message series on forgiveness, journey through the TED online retreat called “Building Forgiveness” or praying with the Stations of the Cross and other devotions on your own or at the parish website.
The season of Lent is a time for us to let God guide us—this involves sacrifice and discipline. During this season we give up a number of things as a way to connect with the Lord’s suffering and sacrifice on the Cross. What will you give up or take on reaching out to others and helping them along the journey of Lent?
In the midst of our interior conversion, we need to express and support it through actions. Our prayer and sacrifice should then translate in acting differently and of course beyond ourselves. We need to gather people on the journey of renewal reaching out to support, care and embrace everyone in need. One of the hallmarks of the Lenten season is that we truly are ambassadors for Christ—that we need to be Him in our world today.
WE ARE ON THE MOVE
May this Lenten season be a time for change, renewal and empowerment to become the disciples the Lord has made us to be. May it be a time of healing, grace and love despite the challenges of today. We are on the move together!! Let’s go!!