“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart…”-Joel 2:12.
Lent is one of my favorite liturgical seasons for many reasons. One of them is how honest Christians are about how sinful we are and how vast and overwhelming God’s mercy is. Being honest about that stuff is difficult but at least during this one point in the year, we are honest with ourselves, with each other, and with God. We are so honest about this sinfulness that we begin this season by literally smearing it across our foreheads. It’s humbling and shows that we all have room to grow. But the best thing about having room to grow is that you can still grow.
I have a really good feeling that though this Lent is going to be challenging, it will be so rewarding and healing. Please, God, make it so.
Happy Ash Wednesday, everyone.
A patron left us Mardi Gras beads at the library last night, so I’ve been wearing them most of the day. It occurs to me that my face looks really puffy in this photo. I had gum in my mouth when I took this, so that’s why.
So we haven’t done one of these in ages. The readings for this Sunday (read them here) were especially poignant considering all the terrible things going on here in the United States concerning race, racial ideologies, and hatred. The pastor of my parish preached a fantastic homily about how hatred and pre-judgement of any kind alienates us from God’s kingdom because anything that comes from God does not divide, but unites.
One line that particularly struck me from the second reading is “For the gifts and call of God are irrevocable.” There’s just something that’s so beautiful and yet terrifying about the gifts and call of God being irrevocable. Terrifying in that at times it feels like we can’t live out God’s call or are afraid to use the gifts he’s given us. But so beautiful in that despite all our fears, reluctance, and stubbornness, he isn’t going to take them back. And he isn’t going to leave us when we don’t follow his call how he might want us to, or if we stray a little too far, “…for he has said ‘I will never forsake you or abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
His call and his gifts are for all. No qualifications or even willingness needed. His arms and his heart are always open, we need only reach out. And that is so important to remember, especially in such troubled times.
I hope the skies are sunny where ever you are today. God bless.
“His whole appearance betokens of love: His head is bent to kiss you; His arms are extended to embrace you; His Heart is open to receive you. O superabundance of love, Jesus, the Son of God, dies upon the cross, that man may live and be delivered from everlasting death!”–St. Francis of Assisi.
The Gospel for this week was the entirety of Luke 15, though the shortened form is Luke 15:1-10. There are three parables told this week: the good shepard, the woman and the lost coin, and the prodigal son. All of these parables emphasize God’s unending goodness and mercy, no matter how far we go astray or how many times we wander off the path he has set us on.
Instead of me explaining and analyzing these readings, I just want to leave you with a quote from last night’s homily. We had a visiting priest and he did a tremendous job of explaining these stories. Toward the end of his homily he said: “The joy of God is not the death of the sinner, it is the life of the sinner.”
You could think about that for years and still find fresh food for thought. That’s all for today, lovelies. Don’t be afraid to ask for mercy. He will welcome you home, no matter how long you’ve been away.
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. Credited to wikipedia.
My reflection last week went over so well, I decided to keep doing them. I might not do them every week in the future and I might try to do some of these during the week at times if I want to. Do let me know what you think!
Today’s readings played off of each other really well. The first reading (Dt. 30:10-14) shows Moses exhorting the people to heed God’s voice and follow his commands. He explains that God hasn’t placed his commandments in places so far away or so high that they cannot be reached. They are “already in your mouths and in your hearts” and we have only “to carry it out.” Similarly, Jesus relates the story of the Good Samaritan and, after the scholar of the law guesses correctly that the dying man’s neighbor is the one who treats him with mercy, Jesus says “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37).
The Bible is a mix of both the highly mystical and spiritual and the common and practical. Today we fully see that mix on display in all three readings, as the second reading (Col 1:15-20) tells about the mystery that is Jesus. To me, the readings boil down to that fact that while love of God and neighbor is mysterious and difficult, we just need to live it as much as we can, which involves setting aside our own agendas at times. But in carrying it out, we make ourselves, our neighbors, and our world a much better place.
Photo credited to: bibleodyssey.org
Today’s first reading features, to me, one of the most comforting lines in the Bible. For those of you who may not know, Catholics do read the Bible at mass. We have three readings: the first from the Old Testament (generally,though it may come from Acts or the epistles depending on the liturgical season) the second from St. Paul’s epistles (generally but varies occasionally), and a reading from one of the four Gospels. Anyway, back to the first reading.
“…as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” -Isaiah 66:13.
Israel has been through numerous battles up to this point in the Old Testament and has brought so much upon themselves because of their sinful ways. Yet this does not stop God from promising that they will return home from exile and from comforting his people. God’s faithfulness is so beautiful and I hope and pray that our world will understand it and embrace it. God bless you all on this Sunday.
Photo credited to pinterest.com