First Sunday of Lent – Year B
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: Feb 18 2018
Have you ever been lost? What do you do when you are lost?
Story of a priest who was driving somewhere with his sister. At a certain point it became clear that he was lost, but he did not say anything. His sister realized it too but waited for a while. Then she turned to him and said, “let me know when you are tired of being lost.”
The first step when we are lost is to realize it and to admit it. Now, once we realize we are lost, if all we do is keep going in the wrong direction but driving faster, it will not help at all. The only thing we can do is to stop and turn around.
Sin can be like being lost, going in the wrong direction. Moving away from our true destination. The problem is that often we do not realize that we are lost, or we do not want to admit it. So, instead of stopping, turning around and searching for the right path, we just keep going on in the wrong way. Living lost.
Lent is that time when we are called to stop, to reflect on where we are going. Jesus calls us to repent. To turn around. So, the first step is for us to realize how we are lost, then turn around and find the right direction. The key question to help is know if we are lost or moving in the right direction, is “What really matters?”
There are 3 traditional practices of Lent — Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving. The 3 traditional practices of Lent each help us in recognizing how we may be lost, each help us to stop and turn around in the right direction, each help us to be guided by “What really matters”
- Prayer: Forces us to stop, to slow down, to listen. Often we go through life and it passes as a blur. So, we become blind to the fact that we are lost. We do not even realize it. Sometimes only when something tragic happens or something major hits us that we wake up to see that we have been going in the wrong direction in our life. Prayer can be that little stop that allows us to see that more clearly.
- Fasting: This choosing to live simply, choosing to use less, choosing to let go of some things. It helps us to remember what really matters. When we are too full with anything, we can lose sight of what really matters, what we really need to have life and what we do not need.
- Almsgiving: When we give of our resources in mercy for the sake of others, then we are forced to reflect on who matters? It is not things, not money, but people that matter.
Beautiful story in our first reading of Noah’s Ark. We see the Covenant of God with humanity and creation symbolized in the rainbow. A covenant is simply the promise to remain. Here we have the Covenant of God, the promise to remain with us. The rainbow is the symbol of God’s goodness. Reminder that God does not desire to destroy, to punish. God desires to save, to lead us in the right direction to the fullness of life.
Lent is a special time for us to stop and reflect on our lives, is there some way in which I am lost in my life? Prayer, fasting, almsgiving all can help us to see how we may be lost and to remember once again what really matters. Turn back to the living God of the Covenant, God’s promise to remain. See the rainbow of the Goodness of God. Then we will not lose sight of what really matters.