FROM ST. Augustine SPIRITUALITY CENTER
Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF
Psalm 32 is one of the Penitential Psalms, which is used in the Responsorial in the Eucharistic liturgy today. “I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble and you fill me with the joy of salvation…I confess my faults to the Lord and you took away the guilt of my sin…kindness surrounds the person who trusts in the Lord.” In the commentary on this Psalm in The New American Bible St. Augustine says, “Even before sin is acknowledged by the penitent’s lips, God hears the cry of his heart. Pardon at once follows sincere contrition.”
The readings today talk about leprosy. In Leviticus 13: 1-2, 44-46 we hear the Jewish law concerning those stricken with this terrible disease. The lepers were considered unclean and had to live separately from the community. In Mark 1: 40-45 Jesus heals a leper. Jesus had great compassion for this man and restored him to the community.
The soul can also be stricken by a type of leprosy, so the readings today are preparing us to enter the time of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Perhaps we have been separated from the community of the faithful by our personal sins. We look at the Ten Commandments and the usual obvious sins. However, there are sins that society as a whole has committed both by creation of and/or by participation. If we do not speak out against these sins, such as, racism, white supremacy and human trafficking, we are participants. How might we handle a “speak out?” …by educating and raising ours and others’ awareness, praying that intention within the family, asking that this be added to the intentions in the Mass, signing petitions to politicians on various issues, speaking to political representatives, writing letters to the President and Congress and choosing some penance to be a just person. “Leprosy” comes in many forms and vigilance has to be engaged to prevent its spread.
St. Paul in his letter to 1 Corinthians 10: 31–11:1 offers some ways to practice Lent – “ …do everything for the glory of God…please everyone in every way…do not seek one’s own benefit but that of the many…be imitators of Christ.” That is quite a challenging plan for Lent; why not give it a try? It may just become habit forming. That would be a blessing for life.
St. Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday, so a celebration the day before would be an appropriate idea. The joy of celebrating our love for one another is a worthy preparation for the beginning of Lent.
Lent is a time to be thankful for the love God, the Father showed us by sending his Son, Jesus to free us from our sins. What a wonderful gift of the Heart of God; maybe a few kisses can be thrown God’s way, too. This is a good practice for the family, as well as, the classroom.
Let us hold all those attending the Olympics in prayer, that they will be protected from injuries, sickness and violence.
God be your joy and blessing,