March 3, 2019
The Sunday Before Ash Wednesday
This is the Eighth Sunday of ordinary time and the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Lent is just three days away. It’s late on the calendar this year. This is a very important Sunday for us as Catholics. How will we enter into this holy season? External or internal – negative or positive? Lent should not be a drag. Lent should be renewal more life giving,
Today we stand at the threshold of one of the Church’s most significant seasons, a season for our lives. Today we are invited to look ahead to the Church’s yearly season of renewal – a time of prayer, penance and almsgiving. Today we have the opportunity to get a few days head start on the Church’s great tradition of repentance and renewal. How do we act in our world? What is on our lips and in our heart, soul and mind. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
Our first reading today centers on our speech. Our speech will tell a lot about us, who we are, where we come from, where we are going. How then do we speak? What do we have to say? Do we listen carefully to what we say and how we say it? Do we talk too much or not enough? Here is a Lenten resolution for us. I will pay close attention to what I say and how I say it. I will not complain and criticize less and praise and thank more. I will blame less and bless more. It is said, speech reflects our heart, soul and mind. Our speech is a window into our soul.
Our second reading gives us a reason for thankfulness. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Lent is our prelude to the greatest victory the world has ever known, the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death. Death is swallowed up in victory. Evil does not have the last word. Even before we officially begin our season of Lent to overcome our sins and bad habits, we know we are not losers but winners. As winners we can afford to be as St. Paul tells us, “firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord”.
In our Gospel Jesus leads us into Lent with his wise words. His first focus is on our eyes. Jesus tells us to first “remove the wooden beam from our own eye before we try to take out the splinter in another’s eye”. So as we examine our speaking according to the first reading, it is also important to examine our seeing. How do I look at our world and others? What do I see (positive view)? Am I always looking for splinters, faults, failures in others? What kind of spiritual vision do I have? Do I try to see Jesus in the poor, the weak, the stranger, the least of our brothers and sisters? And how do we see ourselves (positive view)? Lent is certainly the time to take a good honest look at others and ourselves.
With these positive and practical points we have just received on this Sunday before Lent, we can look forward with joy to Ash Wednesday. With this head start we are ready, willing and able to have the best Lent ever! This is the time for renewal, reform and rejoicing. Lent helps us to live life to the fullest. “I have come that you might have life to the fullest.” We are called to be ministers of life!