Who is the Pharaoh in your daily living?

My Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

The beginning of the section of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans from which this excerpt is found is titled, “God’s Indomitable Love in Christ.” God’s love is impossible to subdue or defeat. St. Paul rightly asks then, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” for God’s love never fails.

From the beginning of time God asserts His love for us and pursues us over and over again, regardless of our faults. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we learn of God’s great love for us, so much so that He gave us His only begotten Son, to live as flesh and bone, that we might be drawn to Him and return His love by our thoughts, words and deeds all the days of our living.

That Covenant of love which He offers us is a relationship of sacrifice. Jesus showed us how greatly this love of perfection lives as He died on the Cross. That earthly death was not final, but offers us new life through, with and in Him. We receive this life each time we come to the table of the Lord and reach out to God for His Son, the Eucharist. The beautiful words of the hymn, “Make of our hands a throne to hold the Bread of Heaven” gives us an image as we hold Jesus within our hands that we are strengthened and fortified to bring Him to one another. He tells us that bringing Him forth in our world will be difficult, sacrificial.

Our Holy Father points to that sacrificial relationship in his message for Lent 2024. He said even today we remain “under the rule of Pharaoh. A rule that makes us weary and indifferent. A model of growth that divides and robs us of a future.” He exhorts us that our souls are polluted. He says that we are under the bondage of Pharaoh because “Pharaoh stifles dreams, blocks the view of heaven, makes it appear that this world, in which human dignity is trampled upon and authentic bonds are denied, can never change.” Who is the Pharaoh in your daily living? Who or what is preventing you from drawing nearer to God? Perhaps it is you, yourself.

God will never grow weary of us. God wants sons and daughters, not subjects. This is the relationship of sacrifice. We can become attached to all the wrong things, money, addictions, projects, ideas or goals, our position or status, or sports, or the games of technology. We are in pursuit, but not of God. Jesus reminds us that these “things” will go away, will perish.

It is up to each one of us to place our heart fully within the heart of God and live accordingly. No one else can do this for you. You can choose to be God’s co-redemptor and lead each person you meet to be introduced to God. Be immersed in Jesus and hear God’s voice call you, beloved.

Our Holy Father suggests that the Lenten season is a time to act. He says, “to act also means to pause. To pause in prayer, in order to receive the word of God, to pause like the Samaritan in the presence of a wounded brother or sister… to pause in the presence of God beside the flesh of our neighbor.” He continues, “In the presence of God, we become brothers and sisters, more sensitive to one another: in place of threats and enemies, we discover companions and fellow travelers.”

Recently, one of our priests was murdered by a young man who shot him. He also killed the priest’s sister, and his own grandfather. The relatives of that young man, as he was, are active parishioners of the parish from which the priest
had served before retirement. God calls us to reach out to them, to hold them close with compassion, not blame, and help them to heal at the same time we help the parish community and each other to heal amidst this violent act. We are called to see each person as God would see him/her with a heart full of generous mercy and perfect love. We are called to forgive and to hold close the heart of each one, because then we are holding the heart of God. Then we are transfigured, and His light will break open the darkness of any difficulty.

I invite you to participate in the Vigil to Dry Tears, our prayer of hope within God’s unceasing mercy, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. We will gather this night to pray, sing and reflect upon God’s Word. We ask that the arms of the Lord enfold us with His generous mercy and hold us close in His healing comfort. We implore God to draw near that our broken heart return to Him. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered at the conclusion of our formal prayer and those gathered may continue to pray for each one until all receive His eternal light.

Look within yourself. Look at your family, your extended family, your neighbors, your co-workers. Where is the fragment and where does the bond of healing need to begin? This Lent, as you receive Jesus the Eucharist, take Him, and carry Him to one another. For, if God is for us, who can be against us?