Lent – 4th Sunday (Year A)

It is one of our greatest weaknesses as humans that we tend to harbour grudges and store memories of the bad, rather than the good….when we encounter someone who has changed their life, and come closer to God – our world tends not to accept them – we might respond with – “I’m not buying into their message of conversion – I remember when they did this or that, or behaved in this way or that”….we judge them, and then hold onto those past memories because, like the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, if we accept that these people have changed and have grown, then we have to accept the message that we are called to change and grow; and for many of us, that message is one we would rather not hear because it demands a response.

In the cultural thought at the time of today’s Gospel, it was common to see a physical ailment or tragedy as a sign of God’s lack of favour or God’s displeasure – a curse; not only the Pharisees, but many would have seen someone being blind from birth as having some judgment from God visited on them. And yet, Jesus is quite clear that God is not judging this man or his parents, by ‘making him blind’ – instead, God visits this man in his disability to demonstrate His love and mercy, and to show the authority of Jesus; nowhere in the Old Testament is it recorded that anyone blind from birth was given their sight; this is truly a powerful and visible miracle that Jesus has worked ; and the man is brought to the authorities to show them this sign from God and to invite them to come to know Jesus. Just like last week’s Gospel with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus visits the outcast and sends them to the community as His messengers – but what a complete contrast in responses we see; the people of the Samaritan village accepted Jesus’ invitation from the woman at the well despite her past, and without a visible sign; compare that with the response of the authorities in this passage; the blind man, also an outcast delivers Jesus message, this time with a visible sign- but this group of Pharisees, locked in on their idea that this man is a sinner and therefore incapable of delivering God’s message, refuse to hear Christ’s invitation – the blind man’s past history prevents the Pharisees from seeing his potential.

Have you ever wanted to share something you have experienced or learned, with someone else, and they weren’t interested in hearing about it or discounted it? Then imagine how the blind man felt – he could see for the first time, and is sharing this with the authorities – and rather than rejoicing with him in his healing and God’s blessing and mercy, they try to condemn Jesus for performing a miracle on the Sabbath.

They don’t want to accept this healing, this opening up to the light of Christ, because if they accept that, then a response is demanded of them.

They either have to accept Jesus and allow His teaching to change their lives and transform their thinking, or they have to reject Him despite this demonstration of His authority and power. They have to accept that God can use the outcast and the broken to deliver His message, or they have to reject that God is all powerful and can use whomever He chooses to be His instrument in the world. They have to accept that God’s will is not theirs, or they have to reject the notion that God is all-loving and merciful.

Not only do they end up rejecting Jesus, but when the blind man proclaims Jesus as Lord, he is cast out from the synagogue. This would have put him completely outside his community – he would no longer be able to participate in the social routines of his town and family. This very incident prefigures what will happen to the members of the early Church in Jerusalem about fifty years later; for proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God, they too will be cast out from the Temple and no longer be allowed to participate ‘as usual’ in their society or culture. It foreshadows what happens quite often today, when messengers of the Gospel are shouted down, discounted, ridiculed and rejected by our society.

But despite this rejection, we have yet another sign of Jesus’ compassion and caring and faithfulness to His promises; that even when we are cast aside, He does not abandon us.

When Jesus hears the man is cast out, Jesus looks for him and finds him, and reveals Himself further to him; not only curing the blind man of his physical blindness; but overcoming his spiritual blindness; giving his soul insight into who Jesus really is;

Rather than simply curing the blind man and leaving him to fend for himself, Jesus seeks him out when the world has rejected this messenger. What further evidence would we need of Christ’s love for those who accept His light, His teaching, and carry it into the world?

And, it is not only to the lost and lonely that God extends His mercy and His love; it is also through the unexpected, the broken, the stained that God issues His invitation to us to come back to Him.

For each of us, it means making a decision when someone offers a message of conversion, an invitation to turn or return to God – perhaps someone who invites us to participate in a prayer group or an apostolate – an outreach to the suffering;… maybe someone who needs our forgiveness…and rather than looking at the person who is asking us, and weighing our response on our past encounters with them; we can look beyond the person to see how God is using them to draw us closer to Himself…in essence “seeing” how they are messengers of Christ to us.

Just like the blind man, Jesus seeks each of us out and finds us where we are all the time; when we feel rejected by the world for delivering His message; when we want to hold onto our past grudges or hurts; when we feel judged or victimized; He seeks us out and draws us to Himself; offering healing to our own spiritual blindness; to our biases; to our past regrets – a perfect time and opportunity to experience this, is by participating in thesacrament of confession….allowing Christ to find us in the sacrament; a chance to cleanse ourselves of those preconceptions and hurts and to take that step in growth and change and open the eyes of our spirit to become messengers of God’s forgiveness and love to the world, knowing that Jesus will always be there with us no matter how the world responds to us.

healing blind

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

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Lent – 3rd Sunday (Year A)

At one time or another, we have all had to deliver messages, and we have all received messages at some point in our lives. Our desire to even deliver a message depends on how we expect the news will be received. Bad news- we don’t want to deliver; Good news, we don’t mind delivering at all.

Often the content of the message determines how we treat the one who delivers it.  Often times, they are treated as if they are responsible for the information they bring. We might blame the one who brings bad news to us, or we shut out what they have to say if it challenges us to step out of our ‘comfort zone’ or be open to a different perspective.   We may even have a preconceived notion of the messenger themselves, and because of our bias, we might ignore anything they have to say, good or bad.  This is particularly true in our faith lives; when our lifestyles or attitudes are challenged by the Gospel.  Sometimes we don’t want to hear the message, so we discount or dismiss the messenger.  And sometimes we don’t want to deliver that same message to others.

We’ve heard the story from St. John’s Gospel of ‘the Samaritan woman at the well’ so often, that perhaps we don’t realize just what a shocking story this was to people of Jesus time and to Christians of the early Church; it presented a real challenge then, and it presents a real challenge to us today.  To better understand just how startling this encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is, we need to look at it in the proper context.

The Samaritans were a group which had split from mainline Judaism several centuries before the time of Jesus, after the Babylonian exile.  Some believe the split occurred because some of those Jews who were able to remain in Palestine during the exile had intermarried with foreign tribes, outside of the Jewish nation. Whatever the cause, by the time of Jesus, Jews and Samaritans did not simply ‘look down on’ each other, but they actively ‘hated’ each other. For example, we know to eat pork for Jews is a serious violation of their dietary laws. There was an old Jewish proverb that held that eating Samaritan bread, for a Jew, was worse than eating pig.

On the other side, a group of Samaritans, around the time that Jesus would have been a teenager, sneaked into the Temple in Jerusalem, scattering human bones around it – desecrating the TempleJudasim’s holiest place; to purify the Temple after would have been no small matter. All of the Jews, including Jesus and his disciples, would have known about this story.

We know that this meeting of Jesus and the woman occurs at noon, the hottest part of the day – not a time of day for heavy labour, and yet this woman is alone at this well drawing water ( different scholars have offered opinions concerning this woman’s character – that she may have been a prostitute, or unmarried living in an improper relationship), but regardless of why, we have this woman who is portrayed as being an outsider in her own community – one who is not associated with by others.

Simply the fact that he, a teacher, was sitting talking to a strange woman in a public place, would have certainly been viewed by His disciples as improper behaviour.

So in essence, from the view of the culture of the day, this particular person had three strikes against her…she was a woman, she was a Samaritan woman, and she was a Samaritan woman of questionable reputation.

Yet none of this is important to Jesus in His conversation with her.  It doesn’t seem to be important in his allowing her to make Him known to the rest of those living in the Samaritan city. Perhaps it was because of her openness to hear what He had to say.

She enters into conversation with Him.  And during the course of their conversation, as she really listens to what Jesus has to say, she goes from calling him ‘Sir’ to ‘a Prophet’ to wondering out loud if He is ‘the Messiah’.  She enters into relationship with Him as He reveals Himself to be the source of everlasting life, that well spring of eternal ‘living water’.  And she learns from Jesus, that this living water, that He is the source of, is available to anyone who listens to His words and believes in Him and enters into that relationship.

This is really good news.

It’s important to note too, that Jesus didn’t send her with orders to announce Him to the city.  She wanted to share this relationship and knowledge of Jesus with others; she wanted to be the messenger of this Good News.   She probably was not expecting a very warm reception, but she went anyway; She went on her own, not because she had to, but because she wanted to, and that is the mark of a true disciple.

We don’t know how hard she had to work to convince her community to come and meet Jesus; after all, if they wouldn’t even associate with her at a well in the heat of the day, why would they listen to her talking about a stranger – and yet , they did.  The only part of their conversation recorded for us, is this woman saying ‘come and see a man who has told me everything I have ever done – he cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ But she must have been extremely convincing for her words to overcome their dislike of her, to come and see Jesus for themselves.  They were open to what she had to say; and after seeing Him and hearing Him for themselves, they call Him the Saviour of the World.  Not even His own people recognize Jesus as the Saviour of the World. And He stays with the Samaritans for two days after that, enjoying their hospitality and teaching them.

This Gospel passage is a solid reminder that Jesus’ has come for the whole world, not just the chosen people, not just a select few – but the whole world; those groups and cultures that do not know Him; those who live on the fringes of society; those who have been marginalized and are looked down upon by members of their own communities; for all of us in our own broken-ness.

And it is in that very broken-ness that He invites us all into a deeper relationship – not when we are healed and whole, but while we are still broken…and even in that broken-ness we are invited to bring His message to others.

It’s also a reminder that God includes whomever He chooses in His plan of  bringing the message of His love and salvation to the world, and we don’t get ‘a vote’ on who that is.

He makes Himself known to His messengers, and He makes Himself known to others through these same messengers.  Just like today, the people of the Samaritan city didn’t get to pick who God used to speak to them; Jesus did that, and if they had refused to listen to that messenger, or rejected what she said, they would have missed the opportunity of meeting directly with Jesus Himself.

The news that God loves each and every one of us and continues to invite each and every one of us into a deeper relationship with Him is Good News.  That He would enter into our humanity, taking our sins on Himself, sacrificing Himself for us is also Good News.  That He invites and allows each of us to participate in spreading this message and His love… that’s Good News too ; imagine – the Creator of All wants each and every human being ever born to be with Him for all eternity – what better news could there be?

And yet, we must ask ourselves; if I enjoy delivering good news to people, am I afraid to be the messenger of this, the greatest news of all, to the world? Am I afraid to bring a message so wonderful to others, through my words or actions because they might reject it? Are the people I encounter in my world going to ignore this message because of how they view me?

As we continue our Lenten Journey, we can pray and ask God to constantly help us; to hear him in our own moments of broken-ness; to hear Him speaking to us even in the most unlikely people or circumstances; and to remember that His invitation to help spread His Kingdom – to be His messengers -is open not only to us, but to everyone else we encounter in our parish, our homes, and our communities.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

 

Lent – 2nd Sunday (Year A)

It’s difficult given media reports and current world events, not to be afraid.  With the current situation in the Ukraine; the ongoing bloodshed and civil war in Syria; ongoing threats of terrorism and strife – these play on our minds.  Yet we try to downplay or ignore those things that frighten us, as if that will simply make them go away.

And what has that got to do with today’s Gospel story – the Transfiguration of Jesus?  Certainly fear is not the first thing we think of when we consider the images that the Transfiguration brings to mind.

But in St. Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration, fear receives special treatment and special mention; in fact, in this particular gospel account, it reveals an all-too-human response to the challenge of discipleship; but it reveals the solution to that human response.

This incident is recounted in all three of the synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke.  But only in St. Matthew’s does the response of fear from the three Apostles, Peter, James and John – follow  the pronouncement from God who Jesus is, and what God expects of those to whom this truth about Jesus is revealed..

We might expect a response of fear and bewilderment at any point in this episode as it plays itself out.

Peter, James and John are chosen often from amongst the twelve apostles by Jesus to be close to him at certain points in his ministry, in his prayer and in his teachings.  Anyone would be forgiven for thinking that perhaps these three are Jesus’ ‘best friends’ from among all his followers.

They have traveled with him, witnessed his preaching, seen him perform great miracles – the feeding of the five thousand; walking on water; numerous healings.  They have lived, eaten, and worked with him.  They know him, on a human level, perhaps better than most others. This is the Jesus that they have climbed Mt.Tabor with.

While they are sitting, they see him suddenly turn as bright as the sun, and his clothes become dazzling white;

-this doesn’t frighten them

Then they see Moses and Elijah – the implication is that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets – the Messiah, and Moses and Elijah are giving witness to this.

– but Moses and Elijah have been dead for hundreds of years,

…and this doesn’t frighten them either…

In fact, Peter wants to build shelter for the Jesus, Moses and Elijah, so filled with awe that he doesn’t know what else to say, but again, he’s not frightened.

A bright cloud overshadows everyone, and still they aren’t frightened; they’re okay with all of this.

But then a voice speaks from the cloud – the voice of God:

“This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased: listen to him!”

Now, they’re afraid.

The Gospel relates, ‘When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.’

The positioning of this phrase “they were overcome by fear” is unique to St. Matthew’s Gospel,

This is not the first time that God the Father has indicated his relationship with Jesus; in fact, the first part of this proclamation is the same as it was when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River – ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

-there’s nothing frightening here.

The difference this time, is the command that goes with this announcement from God;

“Listen to him!”

This is when the disciples are frightened.  None of the other apparitions or implications or events on Mt.Tabor shake them until they hear this command.

“Listen to him.”

Perhaps the cost of discipleship is finally starting to sink in with Peter, James and John.  Prior to this episode, Jesus has spelled out the meaning of true discipleship: in St. Matthew’s Gospel, immediately preceding the Transfiguration, Jesus tells his listeners, ‘anyone who would be my disciple must take up their cross daily and follow me; anyone who holds onto their life will lose it; but anyone who loses their life for my sake will save it.”

The implication of the command ‘Listen to Him’, can indeed be a frightening one.  For these three apostles, it meant that nothing in their lives would ever be the same again.  They could not go back to their lives, to ‘business as usual’ after this experience, and they had seen the great lawgiver Moses, and the great prophet Elijah bearing witness to Jesus as the Messiah.  More than this, they heard the voice of God quite plainly stating who Jesus is – God’s beloved Son; to ‘listen to him’ meant that they could no longer follow their own ambitions and desires and wants.  They couldn’t simply bask in the ‘glow’ of the glorified Christ, thinking of themselves as holding privileged positions; they had to take to heart the teachings of Jesus and do as he asked.

This same implication can often cause us to be afraid in our own faith journeys.  We want to rest on Mt.Tabor with Jesus, witnessing to his glory, spending time alone with him.  It is good to be there.

But when God touches us in the depths of our hearts, and reveals to us who Jesus really and truly is, we too are given that same command; “Listen to Him”

And as with the disciples, it means for us too, that ‘business’ will no longer be the same.

The command means we have to consider that maybe all that we have assumed may have to change as well; maybe our plans for the future aren’t really what we’re called to; maybe the relationships we’ve been in aren’t in keeping with what Jesus asks of us; maybe our selections of entertainment or recreation or comforts aren’t in keeping with what it means to ‘listen to him’.

And the minute we are confronted with that in our own conscience, that perhaps we might have to change or give something up or treat people differently than we have been, that can cause us to become fearful.  We don’t like to change – we resist it, as if somehow acknowledging we need to change something, means admitting that we’re somehow defective or wrong.

In reality, acknowledging we need to change something means growth;  it means embracing that desire to grow closer to God; to come closer to what Jesus showed the disciples on Mt. Tabor; the future that awaits those who imitate the Master; who grow closer to Christ; who join Him in His glory as adopted daughters and sons of God.

Yes, change can be unsettling, disturbing, even frightening.  But just as the disciples witnessed in the midst of their fear when their senses were overwhelmed with the brightness and the visions and the voice; it says, ‘Jesus touched them and said, ‘Get up and do not be afraid’. And they saw only Jesus there.’

If we truly wish to join in Christ’s glory, we also need to join in his suffering of the cross, dying to ourselves and living as he taught. But just as he said to the disciples, he says to us; ‘do not be afraid’

And just like the disciples, if we trust in him, if we ‘listen to him’, then when we look up in the midst of our journey, in spite of challenges and struggles, we will see “only Jesus there.”

Pantokrator_of_Sinai

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

Lent – 1st Sunday (Year A)

note; please forgive the absence of the notes from the 1st Sunday of Lent on the actual 1st Sunday – I was in a place where the internet was not accessible (which is not always a bad thing) and so I am posting it today…

We often play down the possibility that we may stray from where God calls us, or where the teachings of Christ lead us, by failing or refusing to acknowledge that we are tempted to stray.

Our current culture and society stress the importance of being ‘independent’ and ‘free-thinking’, and so as a consequence, we become the final arbiters of what is or is not ‘right’; what does or does not lead to ‘Truth’ – God being the ultimate Truth.

We can cite physical or material ‘wants’ as ‘needs’; we can rationalize our actions easily by determining what is ‘best’ for us (meaning ourselves alone); we can conclude that we alone have the final say on what is or is not right.

The easiest way to fall into this ‘trap’, particularly for those who profess to be Christians, is to deny that we are engaged in a spiritual war in this lifetime; a war in which the very fate of our souls, and those we influence, is determined.  To deny this ‘struggle’ is to deny that there is a possibility of going in the wrong direction, of succumbing to ‘temptation’.  If we convince ourselves that we are the final authority in what is right and wrong, we have already surrendered to temptation. We may even convince ourselves that there is no such thing as temptation, because right and wrong are very subjective terms.  I might here offer a recent quote attributed to Pope Francis which may bluntly explain what is wrong with this view; “If you believe you have never been tempted, you are either a little angel come down from heaven, or you’re an idiot” (I won’t vouch for the authenticity of this quote, but you get my point).

In today’s gospel, we see Jesus engaged in that very battle of temptation – the ultimate personification of Good in Jesus facing the personification of Evil in the devil; this episode in St. Matthew’s account occurs after Jesus has been fasting in the desert.  He’s no doubt very hungry, tired, and alone.

The three temptations as offered, though, speak to a very common progression in our own lives as we battle temptations – the first is to tempt Jesus to address bodily wants (we can argue whether the bread was needed or wanted here, but the point is that Jesus in deliberately choosing to fast as part of his ‘retreat’ saw the bread more as a ‘want’ than a ‘need’).  Jesus quotes Sacred Scripture in responding that the need for God supersedes any momentary ‘wants’ or ‘comforts’.  In fact, satisfying that ‘want’ in the moment may lead us away from God, if we are serious about our pilgrim journey.

The next temptation is to suggest that we can manipulate God to build ourselves up; ‘if you are the Son of God throw yourself off this cliff, for God will send His angels to bear you up…’  God gives us a rational mind in real, physical world – we don’t need to somehow expect God to provide supernatural proof of how important we are to Him, and we certainly shouldn’t be calling on Him to provide ‘parlour tricks’ to satisfy our own egos how important we are to Him.  He loved us into existence. If that isn’t sufficient proof of His love for us, then we need to seriously examine ourselves.

Finally the devil offers power and fame in exchange for Jesus bowing down to him.  Here, we see the devil tempting Jesus with his own sin – the sin of pride.  How prevalent this ‘root sin’ is in our own day and in our own lives; ‘I don’t need anyone else to tell me when I am doing something wrong,’ or ‘I don’t need some old-fashioned rule in my modern life because they are so outdated’; we move and act as if we alone are the wisest of all creatures since the beginning; as if centuries of saints and scholars, theologians and teachers couldn’t hold a candle to our own wit and wisdom (which all too often is formed by questionable or outright false information purveyed through the internet).

The message in this Gospel is that temptation is very real; it happened to Christ Himself – and it is hardly surprising that it should happen to those who would follow Him.  The difference is that we are called to resist it, just as Jesus did; not by pretending that it doesn’t exist, but by confronting it wherever we see it in our lives, and calling it what it is.  Rather than presuming that we have all the answers, perhaps it is with a sense of humility that we acknowledge that we don’t know ‘everything’. Perhaps we need to be humble enough to seek the actual information we need to know how to properly make informed decisions.

Perhaps, after all, we need to rely on God to deliver us from temptation.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

Ash Wednesday

Today marks Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent.

Lent is traditionally a time of prayer, fasting and alms-giving.  We often think of it as a time to ‘give up’ something – some pastime, entertainment, or treat.Our society tends to look on these as ‘giving up’ in a negative sense.

The point of all of this is, actually, to self examine ourselves without all the ‘extras’ and to see where our priorities really are in our relationship with God and with others.  It is an opportunity to, if necessary, realign our lives, orienting them towards God – and we do this by embracing that pilgrim path in imitation of Jesus.

In fact, the Christian who practices these three postures is choosing something – a greater good. It is an annual example of what we as Christians are called to do in our lives; to give up those things that can become an obstruction to our relationship with God.

It may be that, rather than chocolate, we derive some pleasure from speaking sharply to a particular person; perhaps we have a certain place that we ‘hang out’ that, when we do, always results in us overindulging in something that ends in hurt, guilt or anger.  These too are little ‘pleasures’ that draw us further away from God and others – these are the things that we need to ‘give up’.

My prayer and wish for you is that this Lent proves to be fruitful and meaningful, both for you and those nearest to you.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

In his works, ‘The Hobbit’, and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy,author J.R.R. Tolkien introduced us to a character who, in many ways, illustrates for us in an extreme way, what can develop in all of us, if we do not heed the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel passage from St. Matthew.

That character starts out life as a hobbit named Smeagol, one of many of those gentle little folk who live in ‘The Shire’ in this classic work of fiction. At one point in his life, though,  Smeagol discovers the lost Ring of Power, and becomes so drawn to this ring, this treasure, that he kills to possess it; he is so consumed with his desire to have and keep and protect this treasure at all costs, that his desire drives him out, away from the peaceful ‘Shire’ and off into the wilderness, to hide in caves and caverns; as long as he doesn’t associate with anyone, no one will be able to take this treasure.  He eventually devolves into a completely different creature than when he started out in life; he becomes this pale, shriveled, murderous, crazed creature named Gollum, who lives only for one purpose; to have and possess and protect this ring. The transformation is not something that happens immediately; it grows as the character’s possessiveness of a material thing and the need to protect it grows; it increases as his slavery and worry over this one thing increases, until it consumes his every waking moment.

The notion that Jesus presents to us; that a servant can only serve one master – God or wealth – is a very accurate one if we take the time to reflect on it.  If we are a slave to or servant of wealth, we spend time concentrating on that wealth; how to get more, make more, and have more- the only way to get, make and have more is to keep from giving any of it up, to prevent others from having more, which would mean ‘us’ having less.  It can lead to a constant worry, almost to a paranoia about acquiring and protecting wealth from any possible person, situation or event that could diminish that wealth in any way shape or form.  To be of that mindset is not to enjoy any of the fruits of one’s labour, because one is constantly on the lookout for any threat to those fruits. The constant worry about their wealth does not permit them to either enjoy it, or to see their neighbours as anything but threats or opportunities to gain more.

Wealth or possessions are things; they are meant to serve us, not the other way around – if we serve wealth, then in reality, we serve nothing, not even ourselves.  We cannot be open to the joys and graces that the presence of others in our lives can bring.  We actually end up depriving ourselves of much.

On the other hand, the one who is a servant with God as their master follows those two great commandments; loving God with our whole being, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.  That type of servant surrenders all – their gifts, talents, possessions – to the glory and service of God, and the service and need of their neighbor.  Yes, they have what they need, but they do not spend their days consumed with worry and fear about whether or not their material wealth or possessions will be decreased or lessened tomorrow.  It is implied that they trust that the same God who has blessed them with the gifts that they currently have – work, home, sustenance – today, will provide for them tomorrow.  It doesn’t mean they don’t plan for the future, but they are not consumed with needless worry about things that will limit their ability to live out their destiny, as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.  Worrying does not increase anything about us; worrying only decreases our ability to move out beyond ourselves and prevents us from increasing in our potential to more closely identify with Christ in His Divinity.

This Gospel passage comes at an opportune time as we prepare to enter the season of Lent.  It gives us an opportunity to reflect on where we have placed our priorities; where our ‘servant-hood’ lies; to decide whom we truly serve.  It gives us an opportunity to examine our own lives and to re-dedicate ourselves to serving God in gratitude for the many blessings we have received, trusting that He will continue to provide and make Himself known to us more deeply each day.  It provides us with a chance to set aside those attitudes and things that draw us into a grasping, self-centeredness; to open our hands in confidence, without worry, to receive those graces that we can share with our neighbours  each and every day.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!