Friday after Ash Wednesday
This Week’s Intention: As Lent begins, we may be open to God’s invitation to grow in mind and heart, learning to live more fully in his truth and more faithfully in his ways.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 9:14-15
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
There is a proverb, usually attributed to the philosopher Confucius, that reads, “When a wise man points at the stars, only a fool stares at his finger.” It is not uncommon for people to confuse means for ends. Or, in some cases, to actually prefer substituting the former for the latter, clinging to what one can manage rather than risk dealing with the intimidating or the unknown. This can happen when it comes to work. Or relationships. Or adventure. Or God.
In the Gospels, Christ often found this problem among both his followers and his adversaries. He would remind them that the purpose of faithfulness to their religion’s practices was not to remain ensconced in their orderliness or feel smug in their mastery, but to open their minds and hearts to the unpredictable and sometimes confounding wonder of God in their midst. By externalizing and celebrating our awe of God, we can find ourselves more deeply with him, more alive in his truth, more awake to his will. And it moves us to be better, to be whole. Ordinary and doable means leading to an extraordinary and transformational end.
Rabbi Abraham Heschel wrote in his book, God in Search of Man, “The true meaning of existence is disclosed in moments of living in the presence of God.” During the time of Lent, we are called to turn again to our eternal and loving Father who is never farther away than our reach, even when we try to back away or put obstacles between us. The rituals of Lent are doorways that can help us to do this, to lead us to a place where we might better contemplate our relationship with God, and better recognize and embrace the many moments of encounter with his healing and saving presence that make up our daily lives.
Eternal Father, your Son spoke to a sinful world and brought the gift of reconciliation through his suffering and death on the cross. In this time of Lent, teach us to follow in his path. Help us to put aside our selfishness and pride, our judgments and divisions, our fears and indifference. May our faith, hope, and love turn hatred to compassion, conflict to peace, and death to life, so that together we may share in the salvation that your son has brought to all of us. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
St. John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts forever.