My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
We are nearly half-way through our Lenten Season. I pray you are learning how God sees during this Season of Hope. I pray you are refreshed in knowing the Lord as your Shepherd who offers His heart to become one with yours. I pray you are learning to live as children of light, producing every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.
The Word of God proclaimed on the fourth Sunday of Lent sharpens our focus mid-season. We hear of the anointment of King David, we pray Psalm 23, St. Paul reminds us of our purpose as Catholics, and St. John speaks to us about blindness and how, even with our ability to see, we are still blinded by “how man sees, from the appearance or from his lofty stature.” The profound words come together as we recognize the Word made flesh within them and realize they are the gift of the Eucharist for us.
When we receive the Eucharist, we receive the Word made flesh — that is, we receive Jesus. In that reception of His most holy Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, we receive the wholeness of the Word; what came before in the Old Testament, what came through His being present on earth, and what is to come by our living in faith through the triune God each day. It is the sacred mystery in which we are growing and becoming a Eucharist to offer to God and to the people with whom we encounter.
Bringing forth a king was the ministry of Samuel, the prophet chosen by God. In the midst of difficulty, God chooses a most unassuming son who is filled with the breath of God. As David was shepherding the sheep when he was called, Psalm 23 speaks to the beauty of the true Shepherd who guides each one of us in right paths, if we have eyes to see God’s goodness. St. Paul reminds us that we are out of darkness and live as children of light; exhorting us to learn what is pleasing to God. Finally, Jesus tells of how spiritual blindness can be a bully and can hurt those who seek God, when we put God aside.
In this mid-season of Lent, it is good to look into our heart and reflect upon whether we see as God or as man. This is also a time to seek the Sacrament of Penance to speak to God about how you failed to love God, if you have not already done so. The Sacrament of Penance is an offering of love, a conversation to voice your troubles and to receive God’s forgiveness, the gift of His Peace. This gift of Peace was fulfilled through Jesus’ death on the Cross. When we receive God’s forgiveness, then we go and offer that same forgiveness to those whom we may have harmed. We offer ourselves as a Eucharist to one another.
How does our offering begin? It begins with prayer. Jesus always prayed before He went to minister. He prayed while He ministered. He prayed with His disciples. He taught us how to pray. When you pray, even though you may be praying for a need of your own, you are praying that the community of faith become stronger through Christ. Prayer can also be conversation with one another as you bring God’s love through your words. Prayer can be the hug that someone might need or a smile that is affirming when there is doubt. My brother bishops and I recently returned from Catholic Days at the Capitol where we learned about legislation and how our prayer can transform darkness into God’s light. Prayer is participating in the celebration of Mass to receive the Eucharist.
Pope Francis encourages us to pray to the Holy Spirit, the one who “moves your heart, who carries you forth, who brings you consolation, who brings you the desire to evangelize, undertake mission.” The Holy Spirit facilitates the encounter with Jesus.
Pray heartily during this mid-season of Lent. May our heart awaken that we might live as children of light and open the eyes of the blind to see God.