Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Return to Me

Ash Wednesday

Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God.  For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.  Joel 2:12-13

Brothers and sisters: We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.  2 Corinthians 5:20-21

Father, help us to hear your word today.  Open out hearts so that you and your message can enter into it and dwell with us throughout this Lenten season.
We could look at today’s Good News as the Three Commandments of Lent.  Rather than wearing on your sleeve and broadcasting to the world your intentions for this holy season of preparation, Jesus advises us to do all this fasting, and giving and praying, but to do so quietly. 

“But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.  (Matthew 6:3-4)
“But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.  (Matthew 6:6)
“But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden.  And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”  (Matthew 6:17-18)
Tucked neatly inside this little instruction book is a primer on how to pray – the Lord’s Prayer. We could use this one chapter in the one Gospel as the guide to our Lenten Journey.  Yes, the Carmelites have great reflections on their Facebook page.  Yes, the Jesuits offer a special Ignatian series for the season.   Even the Benedictines have resources available from the Monastery in the Desert.  All these are great resources for a richer journey.  However, these three suggestions are a solid way forward.
Are you ready for your role as an ambassador?  Consider what it entails.  For example, Earl Anthony "Tony" Wayne was nominated to be Ambassador of the United States to Mexico on June 9, 2011, was confirmed by the Senate August 2, and arrived in Mexico City to present his credentials on September 11, 2011.  First, he had to get selected.  Then he had to undergo a Senate hearing, committee vote and full Senate vote.  Then, he had to take his credentials and present them to the leaders in Mexico.
Who would nominate you to be an ambassador for Christ?  What resume would that person review to make the appointment?
How would your confirmation process progress?  Obviously the Senate would not have to vote but maybe your parish, or the bishop, or your scout troop would have to agree. 
To whom would you present your credentials?  Christ?  St. Peter? Lent is the time to polish up on your credentials and qualification to serve as ambassador for Christ through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  The time to get started is now. Whatever has pulled you away from Christ, now is the time to accept his invitation – “Return to me.”

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