- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

February 20, 2018

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

1st Tuesday of Lent
Isaiah 55:10-11; Matthew 6:7-15

The prophet Isaiah reminds us sinners of God’s gracious offer of pardon and peace. The Father is calling to us and the Son is reaching out to us. Because God has loved us first, we can confidently turn to God. God’s grace will always work in the soul that is open to repentance. To repent is to return to the Lord against whom we have rebelled. If we open our hearts to it, the saving grace of God will soak into our parched and lifeless souls, making them fertile and productive again. The Psalmist offers us yet another image. “As a deer pants for thirsts for streams of flowing waters, so my soul longs for you, O God” (Ps.42:1).

This emptiness within us, can either lead us to desire for physical satisfaction or it can bring us to a spiritual longing for the one thing that matters. Lent provides an opportunity to avoid the emptiness of things that are instantaneous, momentary and fleeting. During the season of lent, we are encouraged to admit that we have gone after things that could never fill the void of our soul, and to return to God, Who alone can satisfy our deepest longing. The Psalmist states it quite beautifully. “Then I lift up my hands in prayer, because my soul is a desert, thirsty for water from you” (Ps. 143:6). Prayer will deliver us from all our distresses. Thirsty and lifeless like a parched land the repentant sinner waits for the outpouring of God’s saving grace.

Because God’s mercy is everlasting, He is willing to forgive us as often as we return to Him. The season of lent allows us to unravel the path God, in His love, has laid out before us. This is the acceptable time to answer the Psalmist’s question: “Who wants to live and enjoy life to the full?” (Ps. 34:12) If this question excites a response in your heart, cling to the Cross and keep your eyes on Christ. We must not only seek peace, we must also pursue it. We must not only talk about redemption, but actually live as if we were redeemed. Nothing contributes more to one’s conversion than a contrite heart. A contrite heart is the seedbed which the grace of God softens and makes fertile to produce a rich harvest. We have Saint Paul’s word to encourage us: “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We ae no longer slaves to sin” (Rom. 6:6).

Holiness is not our work, rather, it is God’s work in us. The God of mercy walks with as He has walked with His chosen people through the ages. The beloved Son stretched out His arms between heaven and earth in the everlasting sign of the Father’s love (Cf. E.P. Reconciliation I). He is waiting for us to respond to His grace and return to Him. He has his arms open wide and is waiting for us to receive His loving embrace. God calls us and encourages us to find our dwelling place close to His heart where He can heals the wounds of our sins. In the shadow of the Cross, close to the Sacred Heart of Christ, we will come to know again that we were created in the image and likeness of God. In that knowledge we will learn to love others as we have been loved. When the Lord returns at the end of time, may He bring us all together into eternal life.