1 Corinthians 15:54-58
Luke 6: 39-45
We find ourselves a few days away from the beginning of Lent. We are called during this season to focus on three important aspects of our lives: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We do this to direct our hearts and minds towards what is essential.
Aside from the obvious physical dimension, fasting and almsgiving also have a spiritual dimension. In particular, almsgiving is not just giving away money. We are encouraged to give freely of our time and talents as well as to pray for others and for their needs. Fasting is not just from food. Fasting is temporarily giving up something in order to better focus on God. More recently, these types of fast might involve limiting the use of social media. Lent is an opportunity for us to “re-focus ourselves” and engage more in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. In his Lenten message for 2019, Pope Francis encourages us to “stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them.”
In the Eastern rite, there is a beautiful prayer for the Lenten Season, attributed to St. Ephrem the Syrian in which the “pray-er” asks God’s mercy and the spiritual gifts of integrity, humility, patience and love as well as the grace to abstain from judging others. In the reading from Luke’s Gospel Jesus cautions us to remove the beam from our own eye before attempting to remove the splinter from our neighbor’s eye. Lent is a time to reflect on our own need for forgiveness. We are called to be more introspective and less judgmental toward our neighbor. Drawing on the imagery of an icon, we look at ourselves through our spiritual lens and see an image that has become distorted through sin and recognize our need for God’s mercy.
Echoing the words of Pope Francis, may we, during our journey to Easter “rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love Him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness.”
Blessings on this journey!
Sister Marcella Louise Wallowicz, CSFN