A word from Pope Francis ~ “Trusting in God’s timing enables us to work slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results…It invites us to accept the tension between fullness and limitations.”
As we observe the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we enter into the third and final part of the season. We began on Ash Wednesday by hearing the call to fully enter into this season with everything that we’ve got and to embrace the traditional penances of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. This invitation was repeated throughout the first two weeks of Lent. Then, as we realized that we could not do all this on our own, we were reassured that the Lord would give us all that we need to respond to his call.
During the Third and Fourth weeks of Lent, our focus shifted to the sacraments – the ways in which God would redeem us. Multiple images of water, light and life in the daily Scripture readings reminded us of the life God gave us in the Sacrament of Baptism and helped to prepare us for the Easter Vigil Baptisms of the Elect and for the renewal of our own Baptism commitment.
In these final weeks of Lent, our attention shifts to the Cross. Many might be surprised to hear that the Cross has not been a focal point in Lent until this weekend. Up to this point, the Lenten focus has been on our call to change. Now, our Scripture readings and Mass prayers remind us of the great price by which we were redeemed. God delivered his own Son, the innocent Lamb of God, into our hands, as the gift offered for our redemption. God faithfully loved us when we were at our worst. Our Scripture readings this week will set the stage for our hearing of the Passion according to Luke next Sunday on Palm/Passion Sunday. We now turn our full attention toward the Cross. These final days of Lent lead us into the Triduum, the three-day commemoration of the dying and rising of the Lord. These are the holiest days of the church year. Let us do all that we can to live them well.
We remember in our Lenten prayer those who spend this Lent in preparation for their initiation into the church community at the Easter Vigil. We celebrate the Third (and final) Scrutiny with our Elect at the 10:00 am Mass today. Within our own parish community, the Elect and the Candidates for Full Communion are in the final stages of their journeys to become Catholics. Their photos are on the bulletin board in the Narthex. We promise them the support of our prayers throughout this season and look forward to the time when they can join us at the Table of the Lord.
During the past two years of the pandemic, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass has been dispensed by our Bishop. Last week, we received word that we are now in a safe position to restore the obligation for us to attend Sunday Mass in-person. That will begin next Sunday on Palm Sunday. We thank God for safely guiding us through the past two years of the pandemic.
As Lent progresses, let us continue to pray for each other and to support each other in our Lenten practices. Many opportunities for the traditional Lenten practices of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving are listed in the bulletin, as well as times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
We pray for peace throughout the world, and especially for an end to the violence we have witnessed with the invasion into Ukraine. Know that your priests pray for you each day. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy