Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, Offerings and libations for the LORD, your God.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The above selection is taken from the 2nd chapter of the book of Joel, the first reading for Ash Wednesday. The Prophet Joel so eloquently reminds us of God’s Mercy for those who turn to him. Lent is a time of turning our hearts back to God. We fast, we do acts of penitence and prayer, knowing that these outward actions can help us to find our way home to him who loves us so deeply. But Joel reminds us, it’s not what we do that leads us home, as much as, the spirit with which we do it. He tells us, “Rend your hearts, not your garments.” It is my fervent prayer for each of us this Lent, that we will truly enter into the spirit of this season and allow the Lord room in our hearts. That we will fast, but not just give up meat or a meal because we are told we have to. That we will commit ourselves to acts of penitence, and do them with generosity of spirit, not out of obligation. I hope we will commit ourselves to prayer, but not to rattle on without thought or concentration, but instead devote ourselves to building our relationship with the Lord, so that as we enter into the mysteries of holy week, we are prepared to walk with the Lord, who suffered, died and rose out of sheer love for us, and we will feel this in our hearts. The Lord is calling us. This Lent is the appointed time. Let us open our hearts to him! May your Lent be a blessed time of renewal for you and all whom you love!