TUESDAY HOMILY: Wanting To Be Well
in faith doesn't happen to us by osmosis. It doesn't occur but just "wishing" to grow in faith. We have to make resolutions and then act to correspond to God's grace. Jesus offers us the living water but we need to walk in it, to live in it, to swim in it.
That means, first, that we regularly partake of what the early saints called the Sacrament of "second baptism," which is the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, in which Christ bathes us anew in living blood and water flowing from our side and restores our soul to its baptismal beauty and dignity.
But it is also meant to happen through our Lenten practice of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
This is one of the treasures that Benedict XVI taught us during his pontificate. In his 2011 Lenten letter, he stressed that a "particular connection binds baptism to Lent," a connection that the Second Vatican Council's document on the liturgy exhorted all pastors in the Church to accentuate, by making greater use "of the baptismal features proper to the Lenten liturgy."
The purpose of Lent, Benedict taught, is to revivify our baptismal entrance into Christ's death by putting to death whatever in us is mortal so that we may share more fully in Christ's risen life. "Baptism," he insisted, "is not a rite from the past, but the encounter with Christ that informs the entire existence of the baptized, imparting divine life and calling for sincere conversion; initiated and supported by Grace, it permits the baptized to reach the adult stature of Christ."
Lent helps us to advance cubit-by-cubit in the graces of baptism.
"By immersing ourselves into the death and resurrection of Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are moved to free our hearts every day from the burden of material things, from a self-centered relationship with the 'world' that impoverishes us and prevents us from being available and open to God and our neighbor. .Through the traditional practices of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, which are an expression of our commitment to conversion, Lent teaches us how to live the love of Christ in an ever more radical way.
This radical path begins with fasting, which "takes on a profoundly religious significance for the Christian: we learn to overcome selfishness in order to live in the logic of gift and love. . Far from being depressing, [fasting] opens us ever more to God and to the needs of others, thus allowing love of God to become also love of our neighbor (cf. Mk 12: 31)."
The journey continues with almsgiving. The idolatry of goods, Benedict writes, "not only causes us to drift away from others, but divests man, making him unhappy, deceiving him, deluding him without fulfilling its promises, since it puts materialistic goods in the place of God, the only source of life. . The practice of almsgiving is a reminder of God's primacy and turns our attention towards others, so that we may rediscover how good our Father is, and receive his mercy."
Finally, by prayer, "We nourish the itinerary of faith initiated on the day of our Baptism. . When we pray, we find time for God, . to enter into that intimate communion with Him . opening us to the hope that does not disappoint, eternal life.
In sum, "through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism." It's a time to "renew our acceptance of the Grace that God bestowed upon us at that moment, so that it may illuminate and guide all of our actions. What the Sacrament signifies and realizes, we are called to experience every day by following Christ in an ever more generous and authentic manner, . so that we may immerse ourselves [in Jesus' death and resurrection] and possess eternal life."
This is the path toward our total cure.
Father Roger Landry is pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Fall River, MA and national chaplain of Catholic Voices USA. His homilies and articles are found on catholicpreaching.com.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: year of fatih, lent, Fr. Roger J. Landry, daily homilies
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