Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Refreshing, Life-Giving Water

From the Hermitage

A return from helping my brother
who continues is very trying waters
who continues in a hospital
who needs your prayers.

Dear Friends,

Allow me to start this reflection by including a quote from Asia News, a publication from Rome for Asian nations, a publication which usually offers a reflection of Pope Francis' remarks in his homily.

If we want to be saved, we must choose "the path of humility" of "self-marginalization" because God "cannot find us at the center of our securities, no, no. The Lord does not go there. He will find us on the margins, in our sins, our mistakes, our need to be spiritually healed, to be saved, there the Lord finds us". This is the "message" of the third week of Lent, according to Pope Francis.  He was commenting on the Gospel passage where Jesus says: "No prophet is accepted in his own native place".  ASIA NEWS

Hopefully you have come to realize that God gives us the Lenten season each year so that we can find and take time to open heart and mind to accept gifts from Him.  Every year, every Lent, God offers the opportunity to understand what a sincere relationship with Him can mean.

There is, however, a reality that blocks our ability to accept God's gift.  What hinders the openness needed to accept God's gift?  The answer is simple:  We focus upon ourselves, our sins, during this season.  It is the sinful self that captivates us ... and, perhaps, that makes the season less than appealing.  Our focus on God's love is lost when it is only failure and sin that become more important.

We must not allow the season of Lent to become a few weeks when we become immersed in the waters of failure, fear and guilt because we focus attention primarily on sins.  If we only focus upon our human weaknesses, we become like a sponge that soaks up the simple yet destructive looking solely and exclusively on ourselves.  Lent is meant to be so much more than that.

If there is a change from "me as sinner," we can place our attention where it belongs.  Refocusing away from my sins and guilt, I can become more aware of how overpowering is God's love for me, for all of us.

Blessed John Paul II often made reference to our "putting out into deeper waters."  Why?  Because this soon-to-be canonized saint knew well that when we do that and withdraw from focus upon our sins, i.e. ourselves, we become like Peter who came to know the joy of one who jumps into the loving embrace of Jesus and let's Him show his love for a sinner.

Lent should draw our attention to God and others who may need our help.  Let God into your hearts!  Give him the key that will open your awareness of who you truly are.  You as He sees you!  When you achieve finding the gift He gives you, Lent will then become a longed-for season each year.  These forty-days of Lent will become a genuine experience of divine joy rather than several weeks of walking through the mud of past sinfulness.  Be like St. Peter:  focus on the Lord, not on the failures of your life.  Let Jesus' love be the water you draw from the wellspring of Lent.

Father Milt

PS:  I will remain here at St. Matthias until my brother moves from the hospital and the rehab center to his home.  At that time I will return to be with him for a couple of weeks since he is alone during the day.  You genuine expressed concerns mean much to Jack, his fiancĂ©  and our family.  Do continue to pray for him, please.