The forty-plus-day season of Lent, which we begin this Wednesday, is the time that we, as Christian disciples, are encouraged to draw closer to God. It is something which Jesus both demonstrates and encourages. As the incarnate Son of God, He comes close to us to heal and rescue us, and in His earthly life He encouraged those in need to come close to Him and receive His healing touch. Just as the leper does in our gospel reading this Sunday.
In many ways it is ironic that on the day (Ash Wednesday) we hear Jesus speak of praying, fasting and almsgiving being done in secret, we participate in what may be the year’s most public physical statement of our belief in Him!! We are signed on our foreheads with black ash – a sign of our sorrow, repentance and desire to grow and change. While it’s fine to wash it off after Mass, many people keep it on their forehead throughout the day. Often, it becomes a discussion starter and an opportunity to share our faith and encourage others to ‘come closer’, with us, to God in Christ.
Lent, our Christian Springtime, is our time to grow, grow closer to God, as we make time to pray a little more, exercise self-discipline a little more, care for others a little more and nurture our souls a little more.
There will be lots of opportunities to examine our consciences, repent and confess. Lots of opportunities to pray, walk the Stations of the Cross, adore and receive the Sacrament. Lots of encouragement to fast and abstain, not just from food, sweet things and alcohol but also behaviours – gossip, mean judgements and angry retorts – attitudes that may not save us money but go further in bringing us closer to God. Let’s take the opportunities too that enable us to invite others to St Mary’s, to come with us and draw closer to Him who is the source of all Life and Life Eternal.
Jesus reaches out his hand to touch and heal. May we all give Him that opportunity this Lent to draw us closer, by ourselves making time to draw close to Him.
Deacon David OLW