The Goodness of God, Jen Roland.
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A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good… Luke 6:45.
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This Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday. I think that might have had an influence on today’s readings. If not, it is a fortuitous accident! Lent is the annual invitation to take a look inside ourselves and encourage that which is of God, and cast out that which is not. Is there a wooden beam in my eye as I criticize the splinter in my neighbor’s? Is the fruit I bear in this world good or bad? Do I have a store of evil within rather than a store of good? All these questions are thrown at us in today’s gospel, and the season is almost upon us to give bald, honest and straightforward answers to them all. If we do so undertake such a self-examination, we already are building up a store of goodness in us, because, a) we have the courage to undertake such a search, and b) the good in us is clearly already at work! All that is needed after that is the clarity and courage to implement any changes which are suggested in the outcome.
All that sounds fine and dandy, but can it work? Well, some examples might make it real. One person wrote that her family found it impossible to have dinner together because of conflicting schedules. With children still in elementary school, she decided that breakfast might be the golden moment of family unity. She got up a little earlier during Lent and prepared breakfast so that everyone was able to enjoy it together, even starting with a prayer of gratitude to God. It worked! It was still a tradition when the children went off to college many years later. Another would be to select several worthy causes requiring financial support (which one doesn’t?) and setting a target to donate to one in each Lenten week. Similarly with prayers: set a time each day when you know there will be a few moments of peace and quiet and relax with God, saying some prayers, offering some reflections and perhaps sounding out what the rest of the day, or tomorrow would be like with God at your side. When I was young, Lent was simply a time to give up eating chocolate and feasting on the collection after midday on Holy Saturday (and usually paying the penalty for doing that). I suppose it meant sacrifice, and was OK from that point of view, but shouldn’t Lent be a little more active – doing something instead of not doing something? Fishing out that plank in my eye? Developing a new good habit which would please the Lord? These and other questions which may occur to you will be the starting points of the holy season beginning on Wednesday.
Lent, The Challenger 2017.
Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.
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