Lent: Jesus Invites you to an Encounter

 

I come with joy to meet my Lord,
forgiven, loved, and free,
in awe and wonder to recall
his life laid down for me.

Those words are the opening stanza of a well-known hymn by the magnificent and prolific British hymn writer, Brian Wren.

These words contain much of the content of our parish Lenten theme/emphasis this year: “Lent—a time for Invitations.”

I hope and pray that you and your household see and experience Lent as more than a time to ‘give things up’. Lent is much more than a time of self-denial.

The whole point of denying ourselves is to affirm the Lordship of Jesus in our lives...to affirm that the essential truth about ourselves is that each one of us belongs to Him and we find our true identity when we see ourselves as He sees us. To help us do this, we seek to deny ourselves things that can keep us from seeing the truth about the Lord and the truth about us. We seek to eliminate all that gets in between us and the Lord.

This holy enterprise is offered to us by Jesus who invites us during this season to make a special effort of time, prayer, self-denial as well as intentional acts of compassion and generosity. But we cannot truly grasp the purpose of this Lenten journey if we do not first make it personal.

You are personally invited by Jesus himself to spend more time with Him in the weeks that take us through Easter. Married couples sometimes undertake the discipline of keeping a schedule of “date nights” in order to make sure that they are intentional about making the effort and the time to grow and deepen their relationship and their life together.

Jesus asks you to consider Lent as a personal invitation to a “date season”! And the Lord, in His Church, provides so many opportunities to accept the invitation: attending daily Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spending time with Him in Adoration of His Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, our Parish Mission...and more!

But there is more on offer to us in this Holy Invitation to encounter Jesus more deeply in our lives than only entering the church building, important as that is. Throughout this Holy Season, we will be providing you with prayer cards that develop the theme of “Lent—a time for Invitations”. They will be available to you in the pews each week and posted on the parish website.

This first week, you are invited to reflect on and respond to this truth: you are invited by Jesus to come to Him.

You are not left off the invitation list!! Not only does the Lord not forget you, but He is also reaching out to you because of His endless love for you!

If there is something that is keeping you from knowing this truth, from understanding it, from believing it, from embracing it and responding to it with love and faith...whatever that something is, that is what you need to deny yourself; you need to eliminate from your mind, your heart and your life all that keeps you from hearing Christ’s invitation to you, knowing that it is real and from responding to it with a “yes” to His request.

Here’s what we have to understand: anything that stands between us and the Lord is put there by the Evil One. It is Satan that seeks to deafen our ears to Jesus’ call, to harden our hearts to his love and blind our eyes to his loving presence. It is Satan who seeks to keep us from the embrace of Jesus and supplant the Lord’s truth with the lies of evil.

The choices, the situation is that stark!

So, Jesus comes to you and invites you to let Him open your ears, soften your heart and help you to see clearly. Knowing this, who would refuse to use the gift that is this season in order to ‘Come with joy to meet the Lord?’ On behalf of Christ, for your own sake, too...please open the invitation and accept!

...

This last week on Tuesday, those who attended the Men’s Club Pizza night were treated to an in-house evacuation of all those present in response to tornado and severe storm warnings. It meant sending everyone to safe spaces in the Parish and School buildings. My thanks to parishioner Mark Angelus who kept us in touch with timely weather reports and the Plainfield Fire Department to keep us all safe! Thanks, too, to the Men’s Club for a great event and their leadership during the stormy weather!! 

 

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