C Cycle – Ash Wednesday 19
If you take the time to think about God is always positive, reassuring and welcoming in His desire to be in an intimate relationship with us. We make it too complex and way to confusing and in doing so we create this barrier between Him and us. Listen to him as He once more invites us into his presence to be embraced not chastised for our failures. This is from the prophet Joel.
“…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.”
If we pay attention God is asking for our hearts above all other choices, we can do to get closer to God this Lent. He is asking us to go deep inside ourselves and return to him expecting not punishment but a warm embrace. Not expecting to be chastised but to be enveloped in forgiveness. Not to be rejected because of our failures but to find a welcoming kindness showing us the depth of His love and mercy.
At the end of my homily Sunday I invited you to do something different this Lent. I want to reinforce that today. Our focus should be on God’s nature, his heart and those qualities we hear him say today in this passage from Joel. They are not new revelations about God. In fact, every prophet in the scriptures reveal these same attributes about God. They are first revealed to Moses when he encounters God face to face on Mt. Sinai. God in passing by Moses declares himself as “the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, abounding in loving kindness and truth, and forgiving wickedness, transgressions and sin but he will not leave the guilty unpunished” (Ex. 34:6-7),
It is unfortunate of all those qualities all we seem to believe is the fact he will not let the guilty go unpunished. Yet, if you read all the prophets in the Old Testament, they reveal a loving, kind, forgiving, merciful and slow to anger God. A God who will embrace you if you return to him but will punish you if you do not return to him? There it is simply stated by God to us, if you return to me with all your heart.
Lent is beginning Wednesday, and I encourage you to make this Lent a season of believing what God says to us and offer God your heart and daily say a simple prayer.
Come into my heart and show me your love. Touch my heart and move me to show you my love. Grow my heart and let me bear the fruit of being a witness of your love to those whom I love and to those I find hard to love.
Then each week read a chapter from the gospel of John begin with chapters 13. Then next week read Chapter 14 and continue reading one chapter a week ending with Chapter 17. Take the time to meditate on the words of Jesus and discover how God will change your heart if you attach yourself to Christ (I am the vine and you are the branches apart from me you can do nothing).
Don’t try Lent this year without inviting Christ to come into your heart.