Bulletin February 14, 2021
Lent begins this week – the days before Easter in remembrance of Jesus’ fasting in the desert for 40 days. Ashes from palm branches blessed on last year’s Palm Sunday will be sprinkled on heads, with the words ‘Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel’ or ‘Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return.’ In Mark’s Gospel this Sunday, a leper comes to Jesus, kneels down and begs, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretches out his hand, touches the leper, and says, “I so will it. Be made clean.” For what do we need to beg Jesus? How do we need to be made clean? Imagine Jesus stretching out his hand, touching you, and saying, “Be made clean?” Ask yourself: “How will I prepare myself for this season: with prayer, fasting, charitable giving? What needs to happen within myself so that my actions are filled with greater purpose and reflect my love of God?” Certainly it is good to have a plan for doing; it is also important to have a plan for being!
One heartening aspect of Ignatian spirituality is the understanding that God meets us where we are! What does this mean? God does not wait until we conquer our doubts and our fears, or resolve our sinful issues, or commit to regular religious practices. His ‘call’ for us to follow and be with him is ongoing and unwavering. We need not allow our weaknesses and failures to hinder us, nor let our perceived sense of unworthiness inhibit our response to this powerful beckoning. We don’t need to ‘fix’ everything before responding to God’s invitation. He created us, loves us, knows us, and is involved in our everyday living. He pursues us out of love, just as he summoned the first disciples amid their ordinary lives. We can’t hide our real selves from God, so let us gratefully recognize that he continues to call us and want us, just as we are right now.