In our first reading from Isaiah, the Lord wants our sacrifices and our fasting to lead to humble service and not to angry bickering. In order to lead to humble service and loving concern of others, we have to see the sacrifices as actions that unite us to Jesus. We must be intentional with them by offer the sacrifice to God with a prayer. Otherwise, we can tend to do these sacrifices for our own reasons and they lead us to be grumpy and bitter. When we combine them with prayer and the intention of growing in our relationship with Jesus, they become a means of spiritual growth. This spiritual growth should lead us from looking inward to looking outward to those around us in need.
There are those in need of the material necessities of life. There are those in need of our time and presence. There are those in need of God's love. St. Theresa of Calcutta said that the most profound poverty in this world is the poverty of love. Everyone is hungry for love. Love is a choice we make to seek and promote the good of the other person. We can be God's instrument of love in this world if we but offer our sacrifices in union with Christ's sacrifice on the Cross and allow it to be the source of humble service directed to those around us.
Today, start by loving your family better and work your way out.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice on the Cross,
May we unite our sacrifices to you,
so that we may grow in sacrificial love,
and share it with those around us.
We ask this in Your Holy Name. Amen.
Today begins forty days of penance. Lent is a powerful time to return to the Lord. No matter where we are in our spiritual life Our Lord has more to offer us. Whether it has been 50 years since we graced the doors of a church or we go to daily Mass - Jesus has something to offer you this Lent. We are never too far gone - St. Paul tells us that now is the day of salvation, the time to be reconciled to God. Similarly, we have not yet arrived at perfection until we enter our heavenly homeland.
Most of us will live our lives without ever making the whole-hearted decision to be a disciple of Jesus. It is just the reality of our times - almost everything in our life vies for the the top spot in our hearts. Money, power, pleasure, honor, fame, sports, television, social media (the list is endless) compete for our time, our attention, and our resources. These things give us a sense of security and a maybe a fleeting moment of pleasure, but do not satisfy the deepest longings in our heart - especially those for truth, goodness, love, and beauty.
This Lent focus on those practices and penances that will help you fall in love with God. Once that happens, our priorities in life change and we begin to walk the path of discipleship. The faith becomes more than a bunch of rules or something I do for an hour on Sunday morning. It becomes a way of life. Make the decision today to go all in with Jesus this Lent, and prepare to have your life changed!!
Daily Lenten reflections by Father Browning.