Lent Is A Season To Begin Again

As I sit in the back of the dark church and reflect on this Lenten season, I am shaken by the realization that I an a poor excuse for a Godly Christian.  I let petty issues upset me, become negative at the slightest provocation, pray less than I know I should, think less of the suffering of others and how I could help them, fail to accept my own poverty of spirit, and let my ego carry me into one conflict after another.  What a wretch I am.

Out of the quiet, somewhere in the back of my heart I hear the still small voice encourage me to stop reflecting on my failures and instead live in this present moment.  And, at the present moment, it whispers, you are reflecting on your expression of your relationship with Me and I am pleased at your effort, says the voice.  I am chilled by that thought, because, if true, I am not really that defective after all.  There is yet hope for me. I feel deep down that this small possibility can give me new hope and purpose.

With the help of God I can amount to more than I originally thought. Sure, I will have to side step those negative thoughts of failure, but at least He hasn’t given up on me. As He hung on the cross, He gazed down across the ages and saw me feeling sorry for myself and sent out His encouragement to get up, brush myself off, and begin again.  The one good thing I have done this day was to come apart and get still and quiet enough to hear His redeeming message.

Dear Lord, thanks for this Lenten season.  Thanks for this opportunity to begin again. Thanks for not giving up on me when I had surely given up on myself.  Thanks for this place in the back of this dark church where You are able to reach out and touch me, a sinner, like you have done millions of times before, saving us from ourselves and our shortcomings.

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Pope Benedict 16th Retires

In an age when the norm is to seek as much power as possible and then hold onto it for dear life, the recent action of the Pope is amazing.  After eight years in office he announced that due to his failing health he would retire for the good of the church because he did not think he could continue to perform his duties effectively.

Speculations have run rampant about his ‘real’ reasons because no one can believe he would lay down that amount of power over one billion Catholics throughout the world.  Surely there must be some kind of political conspiracy involved many have stated in disbelief of his stated reasons.

And, yet on this first Sunday in Lent we heard the Gospel of Luke tell us about the temptations the Devil visited on Jesus, one of which was the temptation of power over all the kingdoms of the earth if Jesus would worship him.  Jesus’ answer was, “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God and Him alone shall you serve.”

How timely for this Gospel on the heels of the Pope’s decision to lay down his power as head of one billion souls for the overall good of them and the Church.  What a positive example he has given us.  Power in this world pales in comparison to what lies ahead in the next.

He is giving others with more physical & mental strength the opportunity to take his place and continue the long stated purpose of being , “The servant of the servants of God.”

The Pope is retiring, long live the Pope.

Am I Good Enough To Do God’s Work?

We may ask ourselves, “Am I even good enough to accomplish something for the Lord?” All three readings this 5th week in Ordinary time, Cycle C, answer that question.

Isaiah was not good enough at first.  Then an angel touched Isaiah’s mouth with an ember from the fire.  He was made clean.

In the Second Reading, Paul reminds us that he started off by persecuting Christians. He rounded up men, women and children and brought them to the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem.

He watched and approved as an innocent Stephen was stoned to death by a mob.

But, despite all this, Jesus transformed Paul into an Apostle.  “I am who I am,” St. Paul says, “through the Grace of God.”  And, we can say the same…

In the Gospel, Peter wants Jesus to leave him because he is so aware of his own sinfulness.  Jesus says, “No way.  I have work for you; you will be catching men.”  In other words, “You catch them – I’ll clean them”.

Jesus says to you and to me, “Stop hiding behind your human failures.  Don’t tell me by your actions that I cannot send you?  I am God.  I have work for you to do.  I will prepare & cleanse you.

The same God who sent Isaiah, who empowered Paul, who made Peter a fisher of men…

…has sent us.

 

From a homily