THE SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
You have to begin with the end in mind.
Renovating their home, no one starts to knock out walls without a new floor plan ready. In painting, each brushstroke becomes part of something beautiful the artist has in mind. To drive to Grandma’s house, you have to know where Grandma lives before hopping on the interstate.
As we begin Lent this week, what’s the end goal we have in mind? While I was on retreat recently, the speaker thumped the table at one point and insisted, “Lent is not about giving up chocolate!” But what is Lent about?
This Wednesday, as the ashes are blessed, we pray “that we, who acknowledge we are but ashes and shall return to dust, may, through a steadfast observance of Lent, gain pardon for sins and newness of life after the likeness of Your Risen Son.”
Forgiveness! New life! This is what Lent is about! Notice how the prayer over the ashes reminds us of Jesus’ Resurrection. That’s where we’re headed! From the first centuries, Lent has been the way Christians prepare themselves to enter into the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our dear Lord, which we’ll celebrate the last week in March.
Because Jesus is risen and alive now, He has power to forgive our failures and renew our lives, just like He does for the man with leprosy in today’s Gospel. That man received the gift of a new life – something he could never give himself. Jesus, living now in glory, offers the same to us today.
Whatever we do this Lent, it will be worth it if it aids us in living in the presence of the Risen Lord. Are you giving something up? Let it be something that hinders your awareness of His presence. Are you doing something extra? Let it be something that helps you recognize His presence. I have nothing against giving up chocolate – just remember that we do it because we believe in a love that’s so much sweeter!
God bless you!