We are a little late in putting up our Lenten reflections but we trust that they may still be helpful for those who read this blog. We are united with the whole Church as we journey through this Lenten season towards Easter..
It is that time again, LENT. Like anyone who is bothering to read this blog I am thinking about what I should do for Lent this year. The thought occurs to me that if I rephrase the question I might come up with a more fruitful answer. So I ask myself what do I want Lent to do for me? By the time Easter arrives what would I like to be different about me? How can I make that happen?
The season of Lent is God’s gift to us to renew our lives in holiness. By the end of Lent I want to be more aware of God’s love for me and in response to that love to love God more and to reveal his love to others.
The word Lent comes from an old English word lencten meaning ‘springtime’. Spring cleaning is a term we are all familiar with. Once the days begin to lengthen and get brighter we get an itch to empty cupboards and wash curtains, to get into corners where dust, grime and dirt may have gathered without our noticing it during the dark days of winter. This image might not be very vivid in our time when electricity provides us with light twenty four hours a day . But think back to a time of candle light and gas lamps. Light that focused on one area and left the rest in shadow and it becomes quite a powerful image for the season of Lent. There is so much one does not see in the dark. What a fail-safe programme for Lent- to spend time allowing CHRIST OUR LIGHT to light up all that is hidden in the dark corners of our hearts, so that we may remove the accumulation of sin that we may not have been even aware of. ‘Purify me then I shall be clean, wash me I shall be whiter than snow’ is the clarion call of Lent as we encounter ourselves. Jesus is our Saviour. During Lent we learn how much we are in need of Him.
Our parents and grandparents depending on our age, observed Lent with rigorous physical penances and severe austere fasting from food. In some respects we seem to be getting off lightly. But while Vatican 11 eased the severe bodily discipline, it was in order to change our focus during Lent, encouraging us to make it ‘a period of closer attention to the Word of God and more ardent prayer’.
I can think of no more powerful programme for Lent than to make a commitment to spend time each day reflecting on the Word of God, in the readings at Mass, allowing God to speak to us of his love and mercy and bringing his Word to bear on our lives.
I invite you to join with us in being faithful to this commitment. Let us journey together, supporting one another with prayer.
Mary, temple of the Trinity, Mother of the Word made flesh, teach us how to ponder the Word in our hearts and to respond as you did, ‘Be it done unto me according to you will’.
READINGS: Joel 2:12-18, Psalm 50, 2Cor 5:20-6:2, Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
Turn to the Lord again, for he is all tenderness and compassions slow to anger, rich in graciousness and ready to relent.
Two little words in the first reading from the prophet Joel became the focus of my reflection, again and ready. ‘Turn to the Lord again’. God knows we have wandered off. There is no need for us to be afraid. That little word assures us that he is aware of our predicament. No matter how often we have strayed or where we have strayed to, he is inviting us back yet again. He welcomes us, encourages us. “I’m here waiting, ready to relent, watching for your return. My heart is full of tenderness and compassion. Come my beloved, come.”
Who could not respond to someone who makes it so easy for us to return? While we are still a long way off, He sees us. I picture Him coming, rushing out to meet me with outstretched arms, embracing me and then putting his arm across my shoulder and leading back into His House. I have returned home.
Now I am going to remain in his company, allowing Him to speak to me of His Love.
Thursday after Ash Wednesday.
Readings: Deut. 30:15-20, ps.1, Luke 9:22-25
Happy indeed is the one
whose delight is the Law of the Lord
and who ponders his law day and night.
He is like a tree that is planted
beside flowing water
that yields its fruit in due season
and whose leaves will never fade
The Gospel for today speaks of renouncing myself and taking up my Cross. It all sounds a bit daunting. It is easy to feel a certain dread. I want to draw back from the inevitable cost. This Word seems more death dealing than life giving. My death to myself and my comforts. I resist.
But then I remember my prayer time yesterday, and God’s longing for my return to Him and I think not of what I am giving up but of Who I am giving it up for. I am being asked to let go of my way in order to remain in His company. There will be hard choices, yes, because I am selfish and I need to take on the responsibility of facing myself. Self indulgence, self centrednes, self will, all these need to be purified but I see Him standing at a fork in the road, beckoning me to take His path, to remain in His presence, to journey with Him. The psalm puts it so beautifully, in choosing Jesus way over my own will, I am choosing happiness and fruitfulness and He will be with me to guard my way. I do not journey alone. Every step on the journey to Calvary is a step nearer to the Resurrection. In each little death the seed of God’s life becomes more deeply rooted in me.