Lent: A Time for Hope in Heaven and on Earth
As we begin another Lenten season, we acutely recognize that we are sinners, that we need redemption, and that we have a merciful God whose great love has overcome our weaknesses. Most of us, it is likely, don’t need to be reminded that we are sinners. As Psalm 50(51) reminds us each Friday morning: My offenses, truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Yes, we are sinners, but that is not the end of the story.
Many of us will take of special practices during Lent, perhaps for penance, perhaps as a frequent reminder of the focus of this season. Isaiah 58, one the the well-known readings during Lent, reminds us that our true conversion is not rooted in concentrating on ourselves, but rather repairing our relationship as individuals and as a society, to other, to our world, and to God. Paradoxically, it is in reaching outward that we are healed inwardly:
Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me
– it is the Lord who speaks –
to break unjust fetters and
undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and break every yoke,
to share your bread with the hungry,
and shelter the homeless poor,
to clothe the man you see to be naked
and not turn from your own kin?
Then will your light shine like the dawn
and your wound be quickly healed over.
Your integrity will go before you
and the glory of the Lord behind you.
Cry, and the Lord will answer;
call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’
The great mercy of God is found through our own acts of mercy. Said another way: we cannot heal our realationships with God, without healing our relationships with each other. This applies to each one of us, to our neighbors, our nations and our Church.
Pope Francis has been consistently vocal about these truths. His encyclicals Laudato Sii’ and Fratello Tutti are particularly rich meditations about our relationships to our to each other, and therefore, to our common home. The international Marianist website (www.marianist.org) has prepared a small special section with weekly meditations on this theme of healing relationships as a special focus for this Lenten season. We invite you to visit this page and use it as a resource to accompany your 2022 Lenten Journey. May it be a journey of hope in the mercy of God and hope in the grace of mutual care and respect for all God’s people and for our common home.
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