Mass today was awesome. It's always awesome, or maybe I just have an awesome parish. I don't know.
Father highlighted the following texts from the readings and went from there: Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them into a good and spacious land... (Exodus 3) Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. (Psalm 103) Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall. (1Corinthians 10:12) But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did. (Luke 13)
I'm paraphrasing. Jesus was sent to set us free. God DOES want us free - from our addictions, our attitudes, our bad habits, our selfishness. He sends us His strength and His mercy, he offers us freedom, BUT we have to claim it for ourselves. The Lord IS merciful, gracious, kind, and slow to anger. He wants nothing more than for us to be with Him. But at some point, the mercy and kindness comes to an end, and we will be judged on the fruit our lives produced. God does not tolerate sin.
I think there is a tendency for modern people to think of God as a big ol' teddy bear in the sky saying, "Sure, go ahead, do whatever you feel like. We'll talk when you get up here and we'll figure things out then." It came as a rude awakening for me several years ago when I realized that I when I got to the Pearly Gates that I would not be entitled to an attorney and one would not be appointed for me if I couldn't afford one. Because after all, I could justify just about every wrong thing I'd ever done - from the most serious all the way down to the most trivial. No, I was going to be standing there all by myself and I wouldn't need to say a word because God already knew it all. All my excuses... they wouldn't be good for anything. Can you say, "Wake up call?"
Anyway, back to Mass.... If we think we don't need God...if we think we're "standing secure" as St. Paul says, maybe we better think again.
The Gospel today talks about people being killed with a tower fell on them. It was only 18 people...must not have been a very big tower. But it brought back memories for me of the day that The Towers fell. And that day was huge for me. I knew instinctively that those people were no more guilty than me, but I had been in those Towers that day, it would not have been good.
Father also asked rhetorically what we are doing for Lent and why. He explained that Lent is about doing religious things. Anyone can do "religious things" anytime, anywhere. It is a time for doing "religious things" FOR A PURPOSE. So that God can effect a behavior change in us, so that we can become closer to Him. To just do religious things with no purpose is voodoo, superstition, or worse, hypocrisy. Quoting there. (That's what he said!) So that makes me look at some of my lenten "stuff". I can see where some of it fits the bill - it is about changing and growing and letting Him work. Other stuff... I'm.not so sure.
After the homily was the Scrutinies for the three Elect in our parish who will be joining the Church at Easter. That was interesting; I'd never seen/experienced it before. The Elect and their sponsors were called forward. Father explained that this is a time when they scrutinize their lives to see what is in need of change. There was a brief time of silent prayer, and then a blessing. Then he placed his hands on each of their heads (praying silently, I suppose).
The music was amazing. This is the Mass that the choir sings at. The song at the Offertory was the spiritual Let My People Go Beautifully, beautifully sung of course.
And that is that. I know there has been much spiritual "stuff" on this blog lately, but that's what's on my mind. Apologies if it's boring. Stick around. Sooner or later, there will be work-related vents, things with the kids, or who knows what.
Nebraska parish going “ad orientem”
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