Our Lenten Faith Journey Begins
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the start of our Lenten journey. The ashes symbolize both death and repentance. Death – not only our physical death, but also our spiritual death through sin, which is forgiven through our repentance.
In addition to death, the ashes symbolize the pains and sufferings we all have endured in our lives – this past year and all years. As the ashes drop off they are replaced by our trust in God as we journey into the future.
The ashes represent our trust that God forgives all and that we can turn from our sins and shortcomings and that, with God’s grace, we can brush them off and continue our journey home to God. Lent is a great opportunity to take time to focus on just where we are in that faith journey.
Our journey this year is more “bumpy” than normal. The Covid pandemic continues to impact our daily lives and many of our activities. Fr. Arthur and the OLW staff have made wonderful modifications to provide all of the ministries to keep us focused on God in our lives. Last Wednesday many of us received our ashes, now we need to ask ourselves:
OK, so now what?
The major focus of Lent is for us to grow in our faith life – not merely to do something for 40 days, and then return to where we were before Lent. We need to set the right direction for our Lenten activities.
A good starting point is to revisit Wednesday’s Gospel. Jesus tells His disciples how to pray, give alms, and fast. He’s not telling them to do it – He assumes they are – He tells them how to do it. That’s a great point for us to remember.
So, how do we do it? As we set our goals for prayer, fasting and almsgiving opportunities we need to keep the focus on God’s glory.
And we focus on the actions that help us grow in faith:
Prayer, Almsgiving, and Fasting
These will help us focus within ourselves and reflect on what God expects of us.
Our Gospels: From Journey to Reward
Today’s short gospel reading focuses on Jesus’ forty days in the desert – “He was among wild beasts; and angels administered to Him.” As we hear in other gospels about Jesus’ time in the desert, the “wild beasts” are not fearful dragons or giants. The wild beasts are temptations of pride (“if you are son of God…”); and earthly pleasures (…I will make you ruler of the world”). Jesus responds to the devil that true joy comes not from earthly pleasures, but from every word from God.
Many times in the gospels we hear of Jesus going off to pray. This is how He stays bonded to the Father. Our prayer life is essential if we want to be bonded to God.
Next Sunday we celebrate the Transfiguration – where Peter, James and John see Jesus revealed in all His heavenly glory.
Jesus invites them (and all of us) to follow Him on this Lenten journey to our eventual reward – united with Him in heaven. Which way do we want to go?
The choice is ours.
May we all grow closer to Christ Lenten Season,
Deacon Tom Corcoran
“You are the light of the world. Do not light a lamp then put it under a bushel basket…. your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:5-16
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