Feb. 23 sermon of the Rev. Robert F. Tucker, St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield.
PREPARATION FOR LENT
This week our readings challenge us to work for perfection in our love for God and neighbor. To love our neighbor as ourselves and to forgive and strive to forget anger and revenge against our neighbor will help us to imitate the kindness and mercy of our Lord. This is perhaps the greatest challenge for today’s Christians and is the only way to perfection.
The main reason for Lent is at this time of prayer, sacrifice and alms giving is to help us work for this perfection asked by Jesus in the Gospel. Is Jesus being unreasonable asking too much of us? The earthly person is out to retaliate and get even, but the person striving to walk and live the way of Christ is out to share, lend, forgive and go the extra mile in faith and love! Jesus portrays His Father as loving, kind, merciful and forgiving, and the Father sees Himself in each one of us created in God’s image and likeness as sons and daughters. Thus, the challenge for perfection is to be good to all brothers and sisters, even my enemies and persecutors. The law prohibits wanton revenge, but Jesus prohibits revenge entirely. If the spirit of God truly dwells in you, then you must allow the Spirit to act in and through you. You are the words and actions of the Lord in the world today.
Take some time in the next few days to truly prepare for the ashes of Ash Wednesday. What anger, revenge or jealousy are you willing to let die and let new life come and act through you for Lent? We will be reading and hearing in Lent about how Jesus precisely gives us the example of turning the other cheek, offering his garments to his tormentors and he goes the extra mile for us to Calvary! Love is made perfect in self-sacrifice! Jesus comes to dwell within us in the Eucharist and in our time of prayer, sacrifice and alms giving to perfect us and strengthen us to be open to new growth and life as His Lenten Followers.
Be a better driver for Christ during this season of Lent. When things are not going well, think of this story and try to do better than the truck driver in your choices and actions. Late one night a truck driver pulled into a roadside café to eat. He sat down and soon three nasty-looking motorcyclists strutted in and made their way over to the truck driver’s table. One picked up the salt shaker and began to pour it on the head of the truck driver. Another reached over and knocked his pie on the floor, and the third grabbed his coffee cup and spilled it on the floor. The truck driver got up, and said nothing, paid his bill and made his exit. One of the motorcyclists sneered and said, “Wow! That dude sure wasn’t much of a fighter.” The waiter peered out the window into the parking lot and said, “Wow he’s not much of a driver either, he has just run over three motorcycles with his truck!”