LENT: THE SEASON OF MERCY
It is only a few days since we celebrated Candlemas - the feast of Light, Christ Our Light. Now we come to Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. The blessing and distribution of ashes is a reminder both of our morality and of our frailty. It is also a reminder of the love and mercy of God Who seeks us out and Who sent Jesus to save us. 'Repent and believe the Gospel' is Jesus' first message.
How should we consider Lent? A) A season of repentance. B) The season of 'spring'? C) A season of preparation for Easter.
Lent is, in fact, all of these. This year, however, we should also especially consider Lent as 'the time of Mercy', when we turn back to God with faith and receive His love and forgiveness. The Sunday Gospels are particularly suitable for this.
The First Sunday is the Temptation in the desert - setting us on our journey. Second Sunday: The Transfiguration - Jesus in His future glory. Third Sunday: The fig tree given an extra time in which to change and produce fruit. Fourth Sunday: The Prodigal Son: welcomed home - no charge. Fifth Sunday: The woman taken in adultery - not condemned, freed, no charge. Palm Sunday: The good thief: promised Paradise on the same day.
In these Gospels, Jesus' mercy is without price. No punishment awaits the Prodigal Son: just total love and welcome. No punishment for the woman caught in adultery: simply 'I do not condemn you: go and sin no more'. On Palm Sunday, a convicted thief is the only person ever to hear 'This day you will be with me in Paradise.' God's mercy is unqualified. All we need to do is truly to repent.
Sometimes we feel that we must 'make up' or 'atone' for our sins before we can receive mercy. If we have 'atoned', how do we need mercy? God's mercy is given freely, covers all our sins and charges no price. This is what we experience in the days of Holy Week and celebrate in the glorious feast of Easter. So in this springtime of the year and in real belief in God's mercy, let us go forth from Ash Wednesday into the joyful season of Lent. Our Lenten activities help us to prepare for Easter and so let them help us 'put aside the faults of other times'. Better to give up gossip and unkindness than to worry about chocolate! And what we save, let us give to the poor: a true token of repentance.
This week's Bulletin
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Newsletter Pastoral Area 14 - Christmas 2015
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