REFLECTION ON THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
The Scripture readings from this reflection: Deuteronomy 26:4-10; Psalm 91:1-2. 10-11, 12-13, 14-15; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4: 1-13
Welcome to Lent!
A year ago in my reflection for Ash Wednesday, I said the very same thing! It is probably not the greeting that we normally hear for this somber season. While there are many sacrifices that we encounter during this Lenten time, there is also the post-pandemic reality. Let me get back to a crowded Friday Fish Fry! Let me walk in a group and pray the Stations of the Cross. Let me get smudged with those burnt ashes on Ash Wednesday. And yes, grab me a palm branch on Palm Sunday!
Over the past few years, we have had to abandon many things!
For the past year, your priests and deacons in the Diocese have been writing reflection articles for this series called “Scripture Wisdom.” I want to publicly thank each of them for submitting an article for The Mirror this past year! It was a Lenten task that demanded a little more sacrifice. However, I believe that the power of Resurrection joy was seen in each article. It helped, in my opinion, to see the great resource we have in our Diocese through our priests and deacons.
As I helped coordinate those articles for The Mirror, I have learned many things over the past year. One is that the Word of God is very powerful! It is able to create new avenues of enlightenment. This is the Resurrection joy, and people love to read words from our “local” clergy.
Second, I have also learned that our priests and deacons are very busy people. Their task of ministry is more than a Sunday gig. They are busy throughout the whole week and sometimes trying to find time to write a reflection can prove difficult. I knew this a year ago, and it was good to experience it on a first-hand basis as I coordinated the reflections this past year.
I have decided that for this Season of Lent, I am going to give up coordinating these reflections. In a spirit of abandonment, I have decided to let the Spirit of God take over. I have encouraged each of our priests and deacons to Email Leslie Eidson, Editor, at The Mirror, and volunteer to write a reflection on a specific Sunday. Maybe they will continue to be a reflection on a specific set of Sunday readings. Or, maybe the Sunday Scripture readings will be just a start for another topic. For example, my emphasis on abandonment. With the power of the Holy Spirit, I believe we can keep this column going. Maybe you can help your priest or deacon in choosing a Sunday with a topic you would like him to reflect upon more than just in his homily. We have a great resource in our Diocese with our clergy! Please affirm that you have enjoyed this series by our local clergy, and let’s keep it going!
NEW SAINT IN THE CHURCH
On May 15, we will have a new Saint in the Church. Brother Charles de Foucauld will be St. Charles. Brother Charles has a great conversion story. I encourage you to find out more about this holy man. On my part, I love his prayer of abandonment. If you are not familiar with it, here it is:
Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what You will. Whatever You may do, I thank You. I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only Your will be done in me and in all your creatures. I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into Your hands, I commend my soul; I offer it to You with all the love of my heart, for I love You, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into Your hands without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for You are my Father.
As I was pondering my task of coordinating these reflections, with the help of Brother Charles, I basically said to myself, “Why do I have to coordinate these reflection articles? Why not give it to God and see what happens?” And so, that is what I am doing. I am trusting that God will use the wisdom found in our clergy of Southern Missouri to continue with this evangelization.
The Spirit of Lent challenges each one of us to abandon ourselves to God’s will. Is that not what Jesus did in the Gospel for this First Sunday of Lent. Jesus went to the desert and faced the Demon. Jesus abandoned himself to the Heavenly Father’s plan. He won!
We will see this same occurrence with Jesus many times during this Season of Lent. Abandonment is not easy. However, it is possible! As the Archangel Gabriel reminds us daily, with God’s grace, all things are possible! Father, I abandon myself into your hands. Have a great Lent!
Fr. Rick Jones is the Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, in Cape Girardeau.