For the last ten minutes or so, realize what you heard:
God has been pleading with you, begging you:
Come to me, trust me, give your heart to me!
Because that invitation was refused so many times,
that is why we heard in the first reading the saddest possible words:
“there was no remedy.”
If you were listening closely, you heard reference to ignored sabbaths:
why did that figure so prominently here?
Here is why the sabbath was so important,
and why ignoring the sabbath was such an offense to God:
the sabbath rest was given as a sign of God’s covenant with his people.
It recalled two things: the day God completed Creation;
And the day God rescued his People from slavery to Pharaoh.
Keeping the sabbath – keeping the Lord’s Day –
serves to force you and me to hit the pause button
from all but the most essential work, and resting.
It brings us back to a place of quiet,
where you and I tune out the noise and we are alone in silence
before God our Creator and our final hope,
and we stop and remember: I am not in charge!
I did not create myself; I cannot save myself;
everything I have, and everything I hope for, comes from God.
And if you think I’m overstating matters,
just stop and think about the state of our country.
Whether you look at the frightening mountains of debt being piled up,
or the arrogance of politicians and scientists and business owners
as they manipulate human life as a commodity;
as we do business with China and other countries,
where modern-day Pharaohs enslave millions to make our products;
or we ignore God’s design for the human family
and say, no, we like our own designs far better!
Congress is considering a law – the so-called Equality Act –
that would enshrine disordered attractions as normal.
Lest there be any doubt about its intent, this proposed law
specifically repeals religious liberty protections
to make sure you and I are punished if we don’t obey and agree.
During the debate, a member of Congress said,
this is contrary to God’s will.
Another Congressman – on the winning said – declared, and I quote:
“God’s will is no concern of this Congress.”
So I’m going to be a prophet right now:
the one thing that will destroy our country is this mindset:
To set our faces against heaven and say, our will, not his, be done!
But we didn’t get where we are all at once.
This happens gradually: as nation, or to each of us individually.
If you own a car, you figure something out my father taught me
about the value of boring preventive maintenance;
checking tires and changing the oil.
You can skip these things and get away with it – for a while.
But long enough, and there will be no remedy.
Of course, if it’s only about a car, not so important.
But about a relationship? A nation? Our eternal salvation?
So back to where I started: God has tried, again and again,
to invite you and me, each and every one of us,
into an eternal relationship.
It’s why Jesus came: to give that invitation, in person.
It’s why he spent all his time with the Apostles,
so that they would experience that sabbath rest with him –
not merely know things about Jesus, but to KNOW HIM –
to be lit on fire by the Holy Spirit,
so much so that left all to follow him,
and they gave all after that to spread that Fire.
And that’s why each of us is here.
That fire of faith has been passed down and now it’s yours.
But just like the folks in the first reading, it’s always possible to say,
that’s nice, but not now. Soon. Later. Some day. Too late!
Don’t wait to ask Jesus to bring his light into your heart.
To cast out the sins and cynicism that have slowly darkened things.
A lot of people will wait – till the very last minute – to go to confession.
I’ll be very glad to hear confessions all during Holy Week;
but let me tell you, when the lines are long, I end up rushing.
There’s a part of us that likes that: that says,
I want to get in and out of the confessional as fast as possible.
But this, too, is a kind of sabbath-rest; time not so much with me,
but with Jesus, our God, our Creator, our Savior.
This is why I encourage you to make frequent use of confession,
because that habit, over time, changes us.
This time of Lent leading into Holy Week is also a kind of Sabbath.
It can be all, “blah-blah, I’ve heard it all before, let’s get through it”;
or, you and I can hit the pause button, and listen, and remember:
I am not in charge. I cannot save myself.
All that I have and all that I am comes from God.
He is my only hope.