The Rabbit's Foot

(Homily First Sunday of Lent, Year B)

Brothers and sisters, welcome to Lent! The name comes from an Anglo-Saxon word which means spring; it is a time of renewal - physical, emotional and above all spiritual. I begin by sharing a beautiful testimony of spiritual renewal.

Last week a woman from another state called me because she had read an article I wrote about the effects of abortion (To Heal the Sin-Sick Soul). In it I mentioned how when someone comes to me in confession with that sin I have the image of a beautiful white rabbit who caught her foot in a trap. She cannot pull herself free so in desperation she gnaws off the paw and leaves it in the trap. But the rest of her life she wanders crippled.

The lady on the phone then told me that she had an abortion some twenty years ago. At that time she was assured her problem would be over, but it turned out it was only beginning. She did some drinking and partying to help her forget. But one day, after years of denial and buried memories, the reality hit. In a subsequent email, she described it:

The blob of tissue that was my body and my choice suddenly
became a child. My child, my only child, a child I murdered
for the sake of convenience. Horrible thoughts
and unanswered questions filled my head as I somehow
drove home in tears, collapsing in bed where I remained for hours,
trying to convince my husband I was fine, just tired.

She did eventually receive the necessary strength to make a complete confession. It was such a wonderful relief. The priest encouraged her to participate in Project Rachel which has given her much compassion and help. But she also received a most extraordinary blessing.

One day while she was attending Sunday Mass, a girl about seven years came to her. Perhaps the girl saw she had a broken heart. At any rate, the child wanted to show her something. When the woman saw what was in her hand, she stared in amazement. It was a rabbitís foot! What are the odds that any child today would have such an old, worn toy? And the odds become astronomical that she would present it to a stranger during Mass. Jesus will sometimes go to great lengths to teach us a very basic truth: He not only wants to forgive us, he wishes to make us whole.

Brothers and sisters, that is what Lent is about - to open ourselves to the mercy God desires to pour into our souls and thru us to others. The ways of receiving his mercy are tried and true: Fasting, particularly to observe the discipline of meatless Fridays during Lent. Prayer, I make a special invitation that you spend an hour each week before the Blessed Sacrament. Almsgiving, place the Rice Bowl on your family table. Jesus will lavish grace upon us this holy season. We only need to strip away some of the distractions and spend some time in the desert with him.

In conclusion I can do no better than quote from the woman presented with the rabbitís foot:

Getting to where I am today has been difficult and painful.
Thankfully the long journey has been filled with many gifts
which began with receiving the understanding, compassion,
and unconditional love given me by the counselor and my priest.
Although I had been forgiven earlier through the Sacrament
of Reconciliation, I was gifted with being able to fully accept
and better appreciate the depth of God's mercy
and forgiveness. Another gift is the knowledge that
I can be reunited with my baby, who has also forgiven me.
I have been gifted twice with the counselors,
the first a gift from God when they were called to this ministry,
and the second the gift from them of accepting the call.
There are numerous other gifts for which I am thankful,
including the realization of how truly blessed I am.
(see The Ultimate Mistake for full testimony)


From the Archives:

First Sunday of Lent, Year B 2012: The Convenant with Noah Today
2009: Knee Mail
2006: Sir, Go on the Other Side
2003: Lent with C.S. Lewis
2000: The Rabbit's Foot
1997: Jesus' Temptation & Ours

Complete List of Homilies for First Sunday of Lent ("Temptation Sunday"):

2012: The Convenant with Noah Today
2011: The Purpose of Temptation
2010: Who Is Like God?
2009: Knee Mail
2008: The Devil is a Logician
2007: More Powerful than Satan
2006: Sir, Go on the Other Side
2005: The Temptation of Sloth
2004: Temptation of Spirituality
2003: Lent with C.S. Lewis
2002: First Signs of Spring
2001: How Satan Operates
2000: The Rabbit's Foot
1999: Original Sin & Temptation
1998: Hidden Sin of Gluttony
1997: Jesus' Temptation & Ours

Ash Wednesday homilies:

The Purpose of Lent
Two Cheers for Catholic Guilt
Don't Waste This Crisis
When You Give Alms
Back to the Basics
Dealing With Guilt
Exercise of Holy Desire

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

my bulletin column

SMV Bulletin (be patient - sometimes we have problems uploading)

40 Days for Life (Everett, WA)

Q&A about Planned Parenthood

Archbishop Dolan: Letting Crisis Pregnancy Centers Do Their Work


my bulletin column

SMV Bulletin (be patient - sometimes we have problems uploading)

Parish Picture Album

Separated at birth?

SMV Bulletin


(A child in Peru who needs your help)

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