Fr. Kevin’s Column 3/7/2021

Dear friends of God,

This weekend on the third Sunday of Lent, in our first reading we hear about the 10 Commandments. These are the foundation of our lives of faith. All of the children of Abraham (Jews, Christians and Muslims) are called by God to live these commandments. As followers of Jesus, we need to live the Commandments in conjunction with the Beatitudes:

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. (Matthew 5:3-12)

 

We need the balance of living the 10 Commandments with the passion for God and neighbor that comes to us from Jesus in the Beatitudes or 8 blessings. They are found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel chapters 5, 6, and 7. As followers of Jesus, it would be helpful to our understanding of Jesus to read, pray and study the Sermon on the Mount and in particular the Beatitudes. In our sister Church, the Orthodox Church, the Beatitudes are chanted as the Gospel Book is processed during the liturgy. The 10 Commandments and the Beatitudes are central to our faith. They are not meant to be a burden but a gift in giving us the “skillful means” or the “tools” that we need to learn to love God and neighbor. Praying and living them both more mindfully could be a great benefit to our Lenten journey. It can help us with the present that Lent is meant to be for us. Fr. Robert Hale, OSB Cam offered this insight years ago:

 

These forty days are a great gift: we should treat them as a present rather than a burden because it’s not about giving up so much as it is about gaining a closeness to our loving God by becoming more like Christ in all things. And that basically means loving God more, and Christianly loving our neighbors and ourselves more.

 

Lent is a deep reminder that we are meant to love our neighbor and to love God with great openness. The Church is called the People of God. This beautiful image calls to mind that we are people, persons. Persons are “open to relationship.” We can forget that so easily. One of the most harmful struggles in our modern, western world is thinking too much of our individuality. In fact, it runs amuck and destroys the communities that we are called to create as followers of Jesus. An individual is a “closed unit.” St. Paul’s words challenge our obsession with being an “individual” in this way when he writes: “I do not say this in condemnation, for I have already said that you are in our hearts, that we may die together and live together” (2 Cor 7:3). Our futures are tied together. As individuals we can forget that we are part of something bigger than ourselves: the People of God. Lent is meant to be a time to learn again who we are and to love God and neighbor intentionally as we prepare for the great loving gift of the Resurrection of the Body to eternal life.

 

As we grow in living our discipleship fully it will challenge us in our choices and in our way of life. There is really no avoiding these side effect of discipleship. There will be times when we feel as if the tables of our lives have been turned over by Jesus. Even though following Jesus will be discombobulating, the benefits of discipleship are Godly.

 

Please me mindful that if you would like to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, please contact our parish office or me personally. Also, I will be sitting in the church at different times during Lent for “walk in” confessions. This week I will be available from 5-6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10 and Thursday, March 11 from 11 a.m. until just before the noon Mass. I will be sitting in the back of the church.

 

May God continue to bless you during these Lenten days!

 

Much love,
Fr. Kevin