Thursday after Ash Wednesday
February 18, 2021
Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6; Luke 9:22-25
Our first reading this morning reminds us how important it is that we obey the commandments, statutes and decrees of the Lord. That by doing so we will be blessed, but by not doing so we will certainly perish.
The season of Lent is a wonderful opportunity to evaluate how well we are doing at living a life that is pleasing to God. Are we genuinely trying to obey his commandments? Are we seeking forgiveness when we fail? Are we loving our neighbor by performing spiritual and corporal works of mercy? If we’re honest, we all realize that we can do better and Lent is the perfect time to make some corrections.
I don’t think the purpose of Lent is to make big changes in our lives. I believe it’s a time to be more aware of our failings and making an honest effort to correct them. It’s about doing a better job of listening to God and being more obedient to him. The Church really doesn’t ask us to do anything very difficult during Lent. We are only REQUIRED to fast and avoid meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, as well as to abstain from eating meat on Fridays.
During this time of pandemic our local church has also mandated that we do things differently while we’re in this building. While most of you have accepted these mandates and abide by them, some are not following them. Allow me to give you an example.
Since coming back to Holy Ghost in December, I’ve been both surprised and disappointed that some are still resisting the Bishop’s mandate that we wear a mask during Mass. Granted, those who defy his mandate tend to sit apart in the back of the church and I know there are various reasons why you may not believe you need to wear a mask. But the fact remains that our Bishop has required that every person in the pews keep a mask on at all times, except when receiving communion. It is our duty to respect and obey this mandate.
What you may not know is that Bishop Stika has actually instructed our priests to stop the Mass if someone isn’t wearing their mask. Consider what a difficult position you put the priest in when you don’t wear your mask. On the one hand he has clear direction from the Bishop in this matter, yet on the other hand he doesn’t want to make a public example of someone by stopping the liturgy until your mask is on.
Also consider how those who are still concerned about returning to Mass might feel if they come into the church and find that some people aren’t wearing a mask. Regardless of what we might think about their concerns, it’s possible that they won’t come back. I know that none of us here today wants to be the reason someone doesn’t feel safe coming to Mass.
Regardless of what teachings or mandates we may struggle with, let each of us resolve today to make every effort to respond obediently to the Lord as he speaks to us through his Word and through the teachings of his Church and its leaders. While this may seem daunting at times, Jesus tells us his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Let us all examine our thoughts and attitudes carefully this Lent and make the necessary adjustments needed to truly grow in holiness. This is the key to having a fruitful Lent. This examination is more important than giving up chocolate or Facebook.
God bless you.