Posted by: livingscripture | February 13, 2013

ASH WEDNESDAY

From the Word of the Day

“Return to me with your whole heart.”

(Joel 2:  12)

 

How should we live this Word Lent-180x300[1]

This brief expression is the synthesis and deep meaning of the liturgical period about to begin – Lent.  Usually the accent is on fasting and penance, practices that certainly characterize it, but that are not ends in themselves nor do they grasp the heart of Lent.

Let us slowly re-read this passage, savoring it word by word.  Behind the words, we can find the face of the One who is saying them, our God, the God who declared Himself Father.  His heart cannot tolerate being deprived of the children He loves, of the spouse on whom He continues to effuse His gifts.  He is the God whose glance extends far and seeks our glance in the darkness where we have fallen.  His glance is warm and speaks of the warmth of a home from which we have superficially distanced ourselves and for which we nourish a secret nostalgia.  His glance awakes us from the nightmares of disturbed sleep to tell us, ‘Come back!’

God is not looking only at my sins, but at me!  Perhaps I have let myself go a bit, and I have lost some of my initial fervor, adapting to a tepid love.  God has great dreams for me.  He wants me happy and fulfilled.  The gifts of grace and nature that He has given me are like small seeds that must germinate and develop into fruit so that I can be fully myself.  This is where fasting comes in.  It puts a brake on my wayward impulses so that all my energies may be involved in the realization of my whole being.  This is where the pedagogy of mortification comes in so that I can possess myself in the exercise of complete freedom, the basis for any authentic relationship of love, even the one that binds me to God.

Today in my pause for silent contemplation, I will take some firm actions in order to use well the time God gives me to re-launch my relationship with Him.  I will verify my progress day by day. 

Holy Spirit, You live in me to be my light and guide.  Help me to see with God’s eyes so that I may not pass over lightly whatever degrades me or impedes my journey.  Help me to follow Your inspirations.

The Voice of St. Afraate, Monk and Bishop of Mossoul 

The inhabitants of Nineveh fasted when Jonah preached their conversion…in fact it is written, “God saw that they had been converted from their wickedness…” (Genesis 3: 10)  He did not say, ‘I saw them fasting on bread and water, in sackcloth and ashes,’ but “they had been converted from their wickedness”.  This was pure fasting and this was accepted.

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