On this last Sunday before our Lenten Season begins we read some very challenging passages. We hear that we should; Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” “When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well.” “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” And perhaps the hardest passage today: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Well, these are certainly hard sayings to live by.
We will start our Lenten journey this coming Wednesday. I hope and pray that we all take these passages along with us on this journey. We’ll be reading some beautiful passages on the Sundays of Lent, but I suggest that we bring along today’s readings and ruminate on them all through Lent. There is so much to ponder in our readings today. I believe if we take them to heart we will be working toward being the person God wants us to be. For instance, if we strive to be holy, being in union with God and our sisters and brothers, being set aside for God’s purpose, we are on our way toward the next challenging saying- love your enemies. If we can work on loving our enemies rather than hating them or tolerating them we are well on our way to the most challenging statement today- be perfect. Perhaps you believe perfection is impossible, that only in the next life will I be perfected. And perhaps it is a utopian idea to think we could be perfect here in this fallen world. But I love the passage St. John wrote in his first letter; chapter 2, verses 4 and 5, “He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected.”
Let’s take that passage with us as well. And of course we’ll bring Jesus with us on this journey. He will be there when we are struggling or have fallen. He will be there for us when we are tempted. He is ready to forgive us for the sins we’ve committed and are sincerely sorry for. He is waiting to meet us on Easter Sunday, when our Lenten journey has been completed to remind you just how much He loves you, and that He would have sacrificed Himself just for you alone.
So don’t be afraid of the journey ahead, rather let us join together every Sunday to celebrate our victories over our faults and be refreshed for the week ahead. Let’s take the grace we receive in the Holy Eucharist and try our best to live these wonderful, challenging readings. And may God bless you!