Message: Fasting, finances and finding time for God: Jesus ways to a new mind and heart.
"Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart." You are here today because at least a portion of your heart is for the Lord. But Jesus wants more than a portion; he wants your all. "Return to me with your whole heart," he says.
Before I explain what it means to give one's entire heart, I want to say two things up front. First, I am like you. I hold some things back. At this point I have not turned over all my affections, all my finances, all my time. I have not yet given my whole heart to the Lord.
Although we no doubt have different temptations and failings, I am a sinner like you. I admit that up front. But there is a second thing I must add. No matter what you or I have done, no matter what blunders we've committed, whatever sins we have sunk into, Jesus continues to care about you and me. Someone here might consider himself finished, but Jesus is not yet finished with you.
One evidence that Jesus is not finished with you is that you are here today - Ash Wednesday. As a symbol of repentance, you will receive a cross of ashes on your forehead. And what is repentance? In his book, A Lenten Journey, Archbishop Sartain defines repentance as "the refusal to despair." Think about that - and pick up a copy of Archbishop Sartain's book. If you read a page or two each day during Lent, it will help you live the meaning of repentance, a new mind and heart.
This Lent I will give a series of homilies titled, New Mind and Heart. You and I need a new mind, a new heart. Sunday by Sunday Jesus will tell us how to reach that goal. Today he invites us to take three steps: First, fasting - refraining from some favorite food, for sure meat on Friday's of Lent. It's small but I admit when Friday comes I wake up thinking about crisp bacon, juicy hamburgers and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Besides Friday abstinence from meat (the flesh of warm blooded animals) I encourage you to give up some favorite food - like desert or coffee. I know a girl who gives up bread. It's her favorite food and she celebrates Easter with a warm bread roll. It's good to feel some hunger so we can appreciate God's gifts and hunger for God himself. And as a bonus learn to enjoy healthier foods - veggies, fruit, nuts, fish, etc.
Fasting helps toward a new mind and heart - and it leads to a second practice: almsgiving. The Rice Bowl reminds us that our sacrifices can help those who have so much less. For most of us almsgiving means to ask God to get our finances in order - so we can dedicate the "first fruits" to Him. This Lent we will learn what it means that we are "created for good works."
So fasting, finances and then the third practice - finding time for God. A new mind and heart does not mean squeezing in prayer. In means re-ordering our time - maybe fasting not only from certain foods, but also certain activities. I know all of us are busy, but studies show that television, the internet and other diversions consume many hours of our time. Not that they are necessarily bad, but can you give at least 20 minutes a day to prayer? And could you take advantage of things we offer in our parish - Stations, daily Mass, Eucharistic adoration, Generations of Faith?
Fasting, finances, finding time for God - three ways Jesus proposes not to make us look good in the eyes of others, but in the eyes of God. Others may not notice at first, but God will give you a new mind and heart. You will become a daily disciple of Jesus. "Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart." Amen.
Spanish Ash Wednesday Homily
From Archives (Ash Wednesday Homilies):
Homilies for First Sunday of Lent ("Temptation Sunday"):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Fr. Brad's Homilies
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
2015 Peru Mission Trip
Blessing the New Home of Felipe & Maria
with gratitude to Mary Bloom Center donors