The first reading said,
“When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear.”
That’s a good image for what we want to do with Lent.
We want to get those unsavory parts of our lives up on the surface –
and, of course, get them out.
If you are thinking about Lent as something to be “got through” –
just grit your teeth and march through to Easter –
then you’re not going to gain much of anything from Lent.
The whole point of Lent is conversion. We all know that Jesus said:
“Repent and believe in the Gospel. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
All Christians know that.
But what we as Catholics do – that not all Christians do –
is give ourselves six weeks of focusing on that repentance,
that turning back to God, that getting ready for the Kingdom.
Now, you and I can shake the sieve,
But truly, the conversion – the change – only happens with God’s help.
With the help of his supernatural grace,
that is, his divine life poured into our lives.
So please do not reduce this to ritual or rules.
Those exist in service to something far more important, which is –
to repeat myself – our conversion. Our becoming heavenly.
One day every one of us will leave this life, we know not when.
When you depart this life, where will you go?
Do you want to go to heaven? Of course, you do.
Do you take this for granted?
What exactly in the words of Jesus lets you think so?
Jesus keeps saying, wake up! Get ready! Change your life!
Why would he do that if we could just cruise on autopilot
straight through the Pearly Gates?
Here’s a lesson that each of us can – and will learn – during Lent:
Change is hard. Conversion is hard.
Talk is cheap. Six straight weeks is something else.
One reason to give something up is precisely to humble ourselves,
and to face the reality of our weakness and our spiritual flabbiness.
And I say it again: me too.
In the second reading, St. Paul talked about resurrection.
When the discipline of Lent becomes a real drag,
remind yourself of what lies ahead.
By the calendar, Lent leads to Holy Week and then to Easter:
The way of the Cross to Calvary, to the grave and then to new life.
For us that means taking up the Cross here and now.
Embrace purgatory, here and ahead.
One day it will be heaven and resurrection.
That means having our bodies back, new and improved.
What is mortal and frail will clothe itself with immortality.
That’s what Jesus told us to get ready for.
The classic tools of this conversion are fasting, prayer and giving alms.
Each of us can offer more prayer, give up things we like,
and give things away to help others.
I repeat, everyone can do this, at any age.
I’m speaking right now to our children.
Talk to mom and dad about what you can do without or give away,
about learning new prayers this Lent.
And if you really want to make a good Lent,
think about how you can make things easier for mom and dad.
I especially want to highlight some opportunities for prayer
you may not realize.
Daily Mass will be at 7 am, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
If you come about 20 minutes before, we pray Morning Prayer.
You can come to adoration anytime from about 8 am to about 8:30 pm.
We’ll have Stations of the Cross every Thursday evening at 7 pm.
All the many opportunities for confession are available.
It’s game-time, let’s go! Let’s you and I make this our best Lent ever.
I’m praying that this will be a time of conversion:
For myself, for you, and for our parish.
Will you join me in that prayer, and in making that happen?