Oblate blog, March 17, 2010: Lent is bringing us to Easter

This past Sunday was Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday and so we have passed the half way point of the Lenten season. That means that we need to make good use of these last two or three weeks so we are ready to rejoice and celebrate the Paschal mystery.

It seems to me that one of the primary purposes of Lent is conversion. Conversion means a change, or a turn around in our life. We have been doing extra and special things and have been trying to turn more and more to Jesus Christ. We have been trying more and more to turn away from sin.

Last Sunday on the fourth Sunday of Lent we heard the story of the prodigal son. Jesus seems to have always been gentle with sinners as long as they realized they are sinners. So he tells this story of the prodigal son. The youngest son goes off with his part of the estate and spends it all on things that he thought would bring him happiness. Finally he ended up working for a farmer helping to take care of the swine. When he was very hungry he realized that he had left a good and happy home and found only unhappiness. So he returned home and what does the father do, but welcome him with open arms, and then he has a party to celebrate the return of the son.

And what about the older son who stayed at home? He was bitter that his father was so forgiving. He had stayed at home and worked and tried to please his father, but now he feels his brother is getting all the attention. But, who goes out to try to get him to come in to the party? The loving father of course. Does the son come in? We do not know.. Where would we have fit in the story? Are we, during this lent, the loving and forgiving father, or the younger son who wants to go off and have a good time or perhaps are we the older son? We all have a tendency to want to make "things" our gods. When we place things before God we are in trouble.

This coming Sunday, the fifth Sunday of Lent, we have the Gospel about the woman who was found committing adultery. The leaders brought her to Jesus. They wanted to see if Jesus would condemn her. Their law said a woman should be stoned to death for such a sin. Jesus does not condemn but turns things around. "Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone," and then he writes on the ground. Neither does Jesus condemn her but he tells her to go and sin no more.

Sometimes Jesus gets himself into trouble because he associates with sinners. They ask questions like; "Why does he eat with sinners." Jesus associated with sinners because he came for sinners. We are all sinners and he came to bring forgiveness and reconciliation to each one of us. And of course we are to have that same forgiveness of one another.

Have we grown in love and forgiveness during this Lenten season? Have we ourselves made an effort to turn away from sin?

Prayers and love to each of you.

Father Kenneth, O.S.B.

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