Bottom line: As we look forward to Lent, this is the bottom line: "Be holy, for I, the Lord your God am holy."
The renown theologian, Cardinal Avery Dulles, tells about seeing a church banner that caught his attention. The banner proclaimed: God is other people! Cardinal Dulles said he wanted to add a comma: God is other, people!
As you can can see, the comma makes a big difference. Without the comma, the banner is saying that we are God and God is us. Or that God is everything and everything is God. With the comma, however, it means: People, listen - God is other.
That's what our first reading says, "Be holy, for I, the Lord your God am holy." The word "holy" has the sense of being separate or other. Think of the distance between a human being an an earthworm. Well, the distance between us and God is greater. God is other.
God of course is not totally other. According to the Bible, when God created the world, he imprinted his image on us humans. Unfortunately, as our long sad history shows, that image has become corrupted. Instead of using our intelligence and will to turn to God, we turn away from him. Instead of loving our neighbor, we do harm to each other. As we saw last week, we easily fall into lust, anger and falsehoods. Those things are not from God. We need to admit our failures, ask God's help and turn back to him.
This Wednesday we receive ashes with these words: "Repent and believe in the Gospel." We can receive at these times: 6 am - Morning Ashes (bilingual liturgy of the Word), 9 am - Mass in English, 6 pm - Mass in English, 7:30 pm - Mass in Spanish, 9 pm - last chance.
You will notice that this year I've added an additional service: Morning Ashes. You can receive ashes and "wear" them to school or work - a great way to witness to our need for God, his forgiveness, healing and strength.
In the Gospel for Ash Wednesday, Jesus invites us to the penitential practices: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. For Ash Wednesday & Good Friday: one main meal, two smaller meals, no snacks, no meat. Fridays of Lent: abstinence from meat (chicken, beef, pork, etc.) Fish is OK. Daniel Fast: fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes, seeds, olive oil (Bloom version includes fish); no meat, eggs, dairy, fried foods, sweets, alcohol.
During Lent we will talk about the penitential practice of prayer. Today I want to mention something about almsgiving - or generosity. Many of you showed generosity by supporting the Called to Serve as Christ Campaign. Here are the results for our parish.
As we look forward to Lent, this is the bottom line: "Be holy, for I, the Lord your God am holy." Or as Jesus says, "So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." Amen.
From Archives (Seventh Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru