Homily — Ash Wednesday MMVII February 21, 2007

Homily — Ash Wednesday MMVII February 21, 2007

Crossing of the Red Sea by Cosimo Rosselli 1481-82

Behold, now is a very acceptable time.

A very acceptable time to “turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel;” a very acceptable time to “remember man, you are dust, and unto dust you will return.”

During these 40 days of Lent, the Church invites us to reflect on several different events found in the Bible.

We reflect for example on the 40 Days Jesus spent in the Desert praying and fasting and being tempted by Satan.

We also reflect on the 40 Hours Christ spent in the tomb, and on the hours before those, of Agony in the Garden, of being Scourged at the Pillar and Crowned with Thorns and forced to carry the Cross and die upon it, all because of my and your sins.

And a third event we are invited to reflect on these next forty days, probably a little more in the background than the first two, is the 40 Years Moses and the People of God spent in the wilderness as they journeyed to the Promised Land God had prepared for them.

While we’ll have many opportunities in the days to come to reflect on all three of these events, I’d like to begin the first day of these 40 days of Lent by calling to mind the first day of those 40 years in the Wilderness.

Picture in your mind Moses and the Israelites that first day after they had crossed the Red Sea. There they are, standing on the shore and looking back over the sea, looking back to the place they had come from.

And as they look back, they think of how good God has been to them in the past. What great things He had done for them back there! All the many signs of His love, how time and again He delivered them from harm and brought them to the better place they were at today.

As Moses and the People of God look behind them that first day of their journey, they are filled with feelings of gratitude for all that God had so far done for them, both individually and as a people.

And then, Moses and the People turn away from the Red Sea and their past, and face what lies ahead of them. There before them is the desert road, as far as the eye can see.

And in front of them is a long, difficult journey. God will test them, will stretch them, in that desert in the days to come. They will have to walk by faith, one day at a time, not knowing exactly what will be in store for them at the end of it all.

But God has them journey through that desert in order to prepare them for the Promised Land, a land He says will be flowing with milk and honey. In the desert, Moses and the People of God will have to die to self, and afterwards rise again as a new creation.

My brothers and sisters in Christ! As we begin this first day of our Journey through the desert of Lent, may we also look back in gratitude over our past as God’s people. May we also reflect on how much God has blessed us and our families in the past. God has never let us down; whenever we trusted in Him, He blessed us more than we imagined He would.

And now, our good God and Father calls us to set out down the desert road of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. He calls us to leave the past behind and press on to the future He has in store for us beyond the desert.

God calls us in this desert of Lent to trust in Him more fully, to walk by faith, trusting that just as He never let us down in the past, He will never let us down in the future if we keep clinging to Him.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time. May God help us all to die to self these next forty days, so that come Easter, we will be prepared for the Risen Life Christ wishes to give each one of us, and our parish.

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