March 4, 2019
by Candice Tucci, OSF
Creighton University's College of Nursing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 347

Sirach 17:20-24
Psalms 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7
Mark 10:17-27

Praying Ordinary Time

The Invitation of Lent

How Come I Fear Lent?

Beyond Chocolate: A Deeper Lent....

A Mardi Gras Prayer...

“To the penitent, God provides a way back,
he encourages those who are losing hope
and has chosen for them the lot of truth.
Return to God…” (Sir 17:20-25)

The penitent…Three images come to mind.

  1. Scrooge: Wait, it’s not Advent! Lent is just a couple of days away. Why Scrooge? Because, a way back was provided for him. He examined his life, was given an opportunity for his heart to turn toward the true meaning of Christmas. Love Incarnate with the spirit of giving to those in need.

  2. Indiana Jones: Yep! Perhaps, you saw the film when he and his father were on the quest for the Holy Grail?  Finding himself in the cave as he approached the Grail, he had to pass through a series of tests. The one I am thinking of is “only the penitent could proceed.” He falls on his knees in a gesture of humility, he is saved from imminent death, and continues the quest.

  3. Ben Hur: One of my favorite films because he meets Jesus in his life of enslavement and seeking revenge. In the end, Ben Hur recognizes Jesus on the cross where he experiences a true conversion of heart. He turns from an intense hate to reconciliation. From a hardened heart to one receptive to love, faith and hope.  I find it to be an intense expression of the healing power of Christ through his death and resurrection. Or, as St. Paul might say, “taken possession of by Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:8)

So, here we are with Lent nearly upon us and an invitation to reclaim our lives through examination, evaluation and choices. It is an invitation to recognize in true humility that we are not God. We need God; Finally, it is an invitation to be in the presence of the crucified and to turn our hearts toward Jesus from hate, to reconciliation and love.  “Stand firm in the way set before you, in prayer to the Most High God.” (Sirach 17)

In both options for praying with our readings today, Ordinary Time and the Feast of St. Casmir, Jesus tells us to “remain in my love” and this can be achieved by keeping his commandments, with the greatest one being to love one another as he has loved us. But he even goes further and invites us to go deeper. Give all away! Maybe, even give your life for another. Hmmm…How? Maybe by helping someone in need, or participating in a volunteer program, or just cleaning out one’s closet. Whatever or however it may be, Jesus shares this because he desires great joy for us. “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” (John 15) What does bring us great joy?

Lent may provide an opportunity to reflect on attitudes, behaviors, desires and hopes, but it also summons us to act in a “penitent way”.  It is a way to continue our quest, our journey in Christ, with humility of heart. It is also good to remember while traveling through our eye of the needle or passage in life, we are not alone.  We live in a community of faith rooted in a relationship to God who lives in all people and creation. We walk with God who seems to need us and embraces us with all our shortcomings.  In this time for pruning and new growth, God chooses us to bear fruit!  Let us remember the words of Jesus: “…REMAIN IN MY LOVE…It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain….
This I command you: love one another”. (John 15)

May we “continue our pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward call, in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:14)

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