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3/4/19 Weekly Reflection

Mar 5, 2019

We greet you in the name of our Lord Christ Jesus.

May the light of the Holy Spirit of our Lord, the Lord of love, mercy, and compassion shine upon all of us and may He grant us the knowledge, patience and wisdom to understand the richness of His teachings and missions which are intended to nurture our hearts and our lives.


My brothers and sisters in Christ, Ash Wednesday is the day we are entering a new Season, one of penance and sacrifices. It is also the first day of Lent, and we take our first step in a forty-day journey into the messiness of life, full of distractions and temptation. It is a sacred time to prepare ourselves to be able to fully embrace the passion, love, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The First Reading from the Book of Prophet Joel, the Lord God calls upon us to return to Him with all our hearts, with fasting, weeping and mourning. We are told to tear apart our hearts, not our clothing to return to him.

In many ways the Lent season is a time to lift up our heads and our hearts from whatever we’re preoccupied with and focus our attention where it needs to be: that is on our Lord and on who we are that God calls us to be. It’s so easy for us to become overly focused on ourselves and our needs and wants and lose ourselves in the day-to-day distractions of life. It’s also easy for us to miss the SIGNS of grace all around us that our God showing us. He invites us and guides us, so that we would move down the right path, toward him and toward a life of holiness, generosity, and compassion. We miss all that because we are focus on other distractions in our lives.

Lent is the time to look up, pay attention, and direct our focus toward the one who is our refuge, strength and love. Ashes help us do that, for they drive home the profound truth that it’s not all about us. Our earthly life will certainly come to an end someday and a new life BEYOND will begin, and that we are completely dependent on God. As Christians we believe in God, a God who united himself to his creation in an intimate, selfless way. So much so, that he chose to give of his life and die so that we might live.There is no other sacrifice greater than thatThis is just the starting point. Once we take to our hearts and embrace our deep need for God, who is LOVE, we still need to find ways of moving beyond ourselves, of reaching outward, of striving to live for others and not for ourselves.

The Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving help us do precisely that: 

Fasting, by challenging us to not

give in to every desire, to not spend every second trying to meet our own needs. 

Prayer, by helping us to remain open to our God, to amend and to "empty out" our sinful hearts so that God can pour his love and his mercy into us. Our hearts are like a cup. If the cup was filled, then there will be no place for God to pour his mercy into us and plant the seeds of something new and magnificent in our hearts.

 Almsgiving, by encouraging us to use what we have been given for the well-being of others.

Those are the three ways of inviting us to look up from whatever is distracting us, and to model our life more closely on the life of Jesus, a life of great love and compassion. Jesus wants us to do this with our sincere hearts. So, as you come forward for ashes, I encourage you to see the sign of the cross smeared on your foreheads for what it is, a challenge for each one of us to be more. To live more faithfully, love more deeply, and give of ourselves more generously.St. Paul, in the 2nd reading, reminds us:

Behold, now is a very acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation".

My Friends, now is a very acceptable time, let us lift up and direct our focus to where it should be, and

Tear apart our hearts and return to God

And God will embrace us.

Tear apart our souls and return to Christ

And Christ will embrace us.

Tear apart our lives and return to Holy Spirit

And the Spirit will embrace us.

God and Christ and Holy Spirit be embracing us with eternal love.

 

Amen!

Have a blessed Lent.

Have a blessed Lent everyone,

Deacon Joe Nguyen

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