Reflection for Tuesday, February 19, 2002: 1st week in Lent.
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Psalms 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19
Psalms 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19
225. Year II, Lent.
225. Year II, Lent.
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"Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth . . . So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it."" . . . When the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves." Psalm"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name . . . " MatthewFor a few weeks lately I've been pondering these words, "In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with GOD, and the WORD was GOD." (John 1:1) " . . . and the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:14)My mind has kept going back to the word "WORD", as I thought about the significance of its meaning. The Word is alive, and has been with us always. We've been invited to sit with the Word, to share it with others. I thought about the "physicalness" of God's presence in the Word, and my mind wandered to the Catholic celebration of the Mass. I thought about God wanting to be with us, and He did so in one of the few ways He could, in His Word. I remembered the priest's reverential acts of making the sign of the cross on the text and kissing the Word at the end of his reading it to us. I remembered the congregation standing in reverence at the beginning and at the end of Mass as the WORD was carried out high above our heads for all to see and pay their respect.I also thought about how I haven't always been aware of the Word being God. The readings I heard at Mass ran together, having heard them over and over again like so many who have been Catholic all their life. I would daydream through much of the Mass; the words were too familiar. I had let the reading of the Word, become just words. They were the same over and over, and remained hard to understand, calling the Word, God. It couldn't mean what it said, could it? Because I couldn't grasp this connection, I would also miss all the reverential markers that were connected to honoring the Word. I missed a lot, thought I'd heard it over and over and there wasn't anything new or interesting being said. It is how I got to the point that if the priest's homily wasn't interesting, there was little point to going to Mass.Then Cursillo, or as it is referred to in this area Christians Encounter Christ (CEC), happened and a few years later, Fr. Val Peter out at Girls and Boys Town asked me to consider becoming an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist (EME) to be able to distribute communion. How these many lessons connected all the dots for me, I can't tell you. I met God's Spirit on the CEC weekend; and I wanted to get to know God in the Trinity better after that. The EME training was powerful too, taught by Brother William, a Christian Brother, who woke-up the Mass service for me. All I do know, is there has been nothing boring about my faith since, rather I've found there is so much to learn; I'm pretty sure I won't be finished learning by the end of my lifetime. I've grown better at listening, it's hard not to pay attention, but I still struggle with the doing part of God's Word.So as we prepare for Easter in this first week of Lent, you can tell I'm still thinking about Christmas. Today's poetic two-line message in Isaiah contained the word, WORD in it, and that jumped out at me. We are given the beautiful image of the rain and snow coming down from heaven watering the earth's fertile ground, being compared to the WORD coming from God's mouth and not returning until it achieves the end for which God sent it; to build His kingdom, to show others who God is through our own actions. We are God's fertile ground, and like the rain and snow, God's Word showers down upon those who listen. We are lost without this direction, but we need God's help to understand. We call upon that help when we say, Come Holy Spirit, Come and enlighten us. Jesus spoke about that fertile ground when he said the harvest was plenty, but the laborers are few.In Matthew's gospel, Jesus gives us the prayer, the "Our Father." He tells us to pray these words, because God already knows our needs. It is nice to be reminded of this fact. The words of the "Our Father" are familiar to many of us too, but sit silently and meditate on them, think about each phrase. When you say them you realize how complete our lives would be if we would do what we say and praise God, even His name is Holy. Then we ask Him for only this day's needs; and we ask Him for His forgiveness as we forgive others. How appropriate for the Church to give us this prayer during Lent, when our listening skills are a little better. May the words wash over us this Lenten season, and may they take root as we act upon them. Thank you Lord for your WORD. May you never tire of calling out to us, for someday we will hear because we have listened.