Message: Now is the day of salvation. Take a step, however small.
This year I invite you to the Best Lent Ever. Many of you have already signed up to receive short daily videos that will take you, chapter by chapter, through Resisting Happiness. (hold up book) In my homilies I will select key questions from the Study Guide. Here's the question as we begin Lent:
Matthew Kelly (author of Resisting Happiness) says we are called to put ourselves in the middle of the mess of the world and work to make a difference, however small. What does that mean in light of Jesus' call to prayer, fasting and almsgiving?
I ask you take a step - today. Not tomorrow, today. In the first reading we hear, "Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart." And St Paul writes, "Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." No matter what you've done - or failed to do - now matter what burden of shame you carry, now is time to turn to the Lord.
Take a small step. Surprising as it sounds, you may have never really prayed. A study showed that a certain percentage of Catholics never pray - even at Mass. Take a step. Say a simple prayer: Jesus help me. I believe, help my unbelief. God will honor even the smallest step.
Maybe you haven't intentionally fasted. Today and the six Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat - pork, chicken, beef. Instead of a burger, have a fish taco! Instead of fried chicken, have a slice of boiled cabbage with vegetable oil! A little salt and pepper - and it tastes OK. And you feel good. The point is, take a step.
What about almsgiving - generosity or Stewardship? Again, take a step. If you typically give one dollar, consider giving 5 or 20. Once I found a 100 dollar bill in the collection. I carefully unfolded it and held it to the light to see if it was real. It was! What lovely generosity!
I know people are fearful today. Fear makes people hold back. United, however, we have strength. If you have not filled out a prayer slip, do it now and place it in the collection - along with your 100 dollar bill. :) Serious, we are in a moment of great uncertainty but also opportunity. Join fellow parishioners in praying for our nation and its leaders. Can anyone doubt we need united prayer? It's a powerful weapon God has given us for this battle.
Also at the end of Mass I will will bless Rice Bowls. Take one for your Lenten table. It combines prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Brothers and sisters, now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. Take a step, however small. In a few moments you will receive ashes on your forehead. Repent and believe in the Gospel. Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart. Amen.
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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Bishop Bob Barron's Homilies
Fr. Brad's Homilies
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