Feb 25, 2017

Sunday Before Lent (8th Sunday)

We live in a young nation saturated with history and events that have shaped the story and defined the lives and destiny of countless people through every generation. As an example, we can retrace the epic adventures of the Franciscan fathers who marked out the El Camino Real which begins in San Diego and passes through Oceanside as it links the Missions throughout California.

Take a walking tour through Philadelphia and Boston and you enter the drama of the Revolutionary Wars, the birth of a nation and its first steps in into defining its journey ahead.

Visit the battlefield of Gettysburg and in your mind you can still smell the incense of gunpowder and hear the echoes of Lincoln's short but still lingering address pointing the nation towards a noble future.

Scroll through the Ellis Island passenger records and enter into the dreams of immigrants who embarked on a journey of faith and hope to a land they would come to love and sacrifice their lives for.

Stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and look out into history and see where hundreds of thousands journeyed to Washington in pursuit of civil rights or arrive every winter to march in support of innocent unborn human life.

There are many untold stories of epic journeys that also need to be told. It is written in each face of a refugee family, or etched in the body of an immigrant baked in the desert heat reminding us of undocumented real life stories of fellow travellers, who have joined the historical narrative of our land - of those who leave home and family seeking to reach a promised land, the longing within the human soul for a new birth, a new beginning and a new world.

This is our quest, our story too, and our journey as we approach the gates of the Season of Lent. It marks our forty day journey with Christ who left his hometown and family to lead us on an adventurous and dangerous journey to the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Along the way, we too will venture into a desert and battle with the elements of evil. We will also experience hunger and thirst along the way. But Christ will be our guide and feed us with His sacraments.

We will cross borders and enter into foreign territories where we will be tempted to sin and at times feel a stranger, far from home. But Christ will comfort us with stories and parables of God's mercy and forgiveness.  

We will climb mountains, become exhausted, and be tempted to despair or give up. But Christ transfigured before us like a beacon, will spur us onward assuring us with the power of His divinity.

We will revisit the places and retell the final events of Our Lord’s life, climbing up to the stairwell to the Upper Room or through the brush and stoney pathway into the a hidden garden. We will stand by Him as He is arrested, facing trumped up charges of treason and conspiracy. We will accompany Him along the road of sorrows to His place of crucifixion and death. We will encounter our own weaknesses and the limits of our strength and resolve. But if we persevere and hold on to Christ, even in His deathly silence, the Good Shepherd will lead us through the dark valley of death to the new promise and new life assured by His victory in resurrection.  

Our life, every life, is a life and journey in the company of Christ. The approaching Season of Lent simply reminds us that this is not a private journey - we share the road with others. Their stories are also our stories. It is also Christ the traveller’s story who leads the way.

As we tie our laces and prepare our body for the journey ahead into the Season of Lent, we will want to pack only what we truly need. Ash Wednesday and Confessions will remind us that we are made of and the encouragement of God’s kindness as we admit to our weaknesses and ask for forgiveness of sins. Our Friday Stations of the Cross will test our resolve to carry the responsibility of saving grace. Our fasting will remind us of our hunger for God’s strength.  Our preparation for the Easter Sacraments will retell, relive and weave our own pathway into the epic journey of the People of God from slavery to freedom.

What should be our attitude as we get ready for our journey through the weeks of Lent? In today’s Gospel Christ sets stage - “Do not worry”. Simply seek to reach the Kingdom of God. Trust in the guidance, the protection and the good nature of God to see us safely to our journey's end. Trust in Him to see you through just one day so that tonight when you rest your tired feet, you can also rest in peace knowing you are a little bit closer your heart's desire - to stand at the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem and rejoice.

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