8th Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: March 3, 2019
This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. The beginning of the season of Lent. An ancient time of preparation for Easter.
For adults who are to be initiated into the Church at the Easter Vigil, this Lent is a special time of spiritual preparation for Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist as they become Catholic. We have several adults who have been preparing in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in our parish this year. Please keep them in your prayers.
For those of us who have already been baptized, Lent is a time to prepare to renew our baptismal promises at the Easter celebrations. We are all called to conversion during the Lenten season. That conversion is expressed on Ash Wednesday in the words that are pronounced over us when we receive those ashes on our forehead.
There are two options, the minister may say, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” The call of Jesus at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark. Repent means to turn around, to change. We are all called to some sort of repentance during Lent.
The other optional words are, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” You could say that during this Lenten season, as catechumens prepare for baptism, and as we the baptized prepare to renew our baptismal promises at Easter, we are all in a sense preparing for our death.
We do not like to think about our death, in our society today we often hide from this reality. But, life and death go together, and facing our death helps us to live wisely now.
Sometimes monks would keep a skull on their desk as a constant reminder, to help them live in a wise way, that kept them focused on what really matters.
For us believers, death is not to be seen as a terrible thing. St. Paul declares that in our second reading today when he proclaims, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Being free from fear of death sets us free to live our lives wisely and with courage.
So the season of Lent is a time of conversion to prepare us for Easter and in a sense for our death. To the extent that we are free from sin, to the extent that we are in union with God, to that extent death loses its sting.
What could we do during Lent that will lead us to conversion and prepare us for Easter and our death? Two suggestions come from our Gospel today. Jesus speaks about blind guides. We want to look for a good guide during Lent. Find some good spiritual reading to do during this season. For some of you it might be reading one of the Gospels, others might find a good spiritual writer to read during Lent. Good spiritual reading is like a good guide.
Jesus also speaks about taking the log out of our eyes, before we try to take the speck out of other people’s eyes. This requires serious and honest self-examination. Many of us will want to do a good examination of conscience during Lent, perhaps leading to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to confess our sins. What are the logs that prevent us from seeing with the eyes of God? What are the logs we need to remove? We need to be very honest with ourselves.
This season of Lent is to prepare us for Easter and for our death. It is to be a time of conversion, to become free from sin, to be united more fully with God.
Two possible acts for you to consider for your Lent. Find a good guide to lead you through some spiritual reading. Remove any logs from your eyes through a good self-examination and confession.
If we live Lent well we will be able to celebrate Easter with great joy and be able to cry out with St. Paul, “O death, where is your sting?”