Monday, February 23, 2004

Preparing for Lent

The challenge of Sunday's Gospel reading (Luke 6:27-38) in which we are called to love unconditionally, even to love our enemies, is the type of difficult examination of conscience and exhortation that is a trumpet call for Lent.

The Holy Father's message for Lent is also one which must be deeply pondered because in it he calls us to remember that we are children:

With childlike simplicity let us turn to God and call him, as Jesus taught us in the prayer of the "Our Father", "Abba," "Father."

Our Father! Let us repeat this prayer often during Lent; let us repeat it with deep emotion. By calling God "Our Father," we will better realize that we are his children and feel that we are brothers and sisters of one another. Thus it will be an easier for us to open our hearts to the little ones, following the invitation of Jesus: Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me (Mt 18:5).

In this hope, I invoke upon each of you God's blessings, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Word of God made man and Mother of all humanity.

The verse he has selected as the theme for Lent underscores Jesus' attitude toward children:

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me. (Mt 18:5)

We are to receive children as we would receive Jesus. The Lord is always found in the marginalized. And who today is more marginalized than children? As our Holy Father says,

Together with such great generosity, however, a word must be said about the selfishness of those who do not receive children. There are young people who have been profoundly hurt by the violence of adults: sexual abuse, forced prostitution, involvement in the sale and use of drugs; children forced to work or enlisted for combat; young children scarred forever by the breakup of the family; little ones caught up in the obscene trafficking of organs and persons. What too of the tragedy of AIDS and its devastating consequences in Africa? It is said that millions of persons are now afflicted by this scourge, many of whom were infected from birth. Humanity cannot close its eyes in the face of so appalling a tragedy!

What evil have these children done to merit such suffering? From a human standpoint it is not easy, indeed it may be impossible, to answer this disturbing question. Only faith can make us begin to understand so profound an abyss of suffering. By becoming "obedient unto death, even death on a Cross"(Phil 2:8), Jesus took human suffering upon himself and illuminated it with the radiant light of his resurrection. By his death, he conquered death once for all.

May this be a Lent where our reflection upon all the "least of these" result in acts of mercy, generosity, and genuine conversion in all our hearts.

Posted by David at 6:04 PM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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