Homily for Thursday after Ash Wednesday
In our first reading today from the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses is speaking to the Jewish people about the promise that God would restore them if they repented. He’s really giving them two options: they can either persist in their lack of zeal for following the commands of God and perish or they could turn back to the Lord, follow His will, and be granted prosperity and life. The same can be said for each one of us.
The Lord is inviting each of us to use this Lenten season to enter into a deeper relationship with Him. This is a time for us to reflect on our lives, to seriously take a good, long, hard look at our hearts and to be honest with ourselves about where we are falling short of the requirement to follow God’s commandments. We can’t pick and choose which ones we want to follow. If we don’t strive to follow all of them, then we will surely perish.
Hell is a very real place. The Evil One doesn’t want us to believe that to be so. But, it is very much a thing. And as Christians, we have to be vigilant about how we are constantly being pulled away from doing the will of the Father in our everyday lives. We have to continue persevering in the spiritual life. We have to keep picking up our crosses and following the Lord. If we do, the reward for us will be Heaven. If we aren’t striving for that, I’m afraid our destination might just be Hell.
The good news is that we have this season to help us reflect on how we are living that Christian discipleship. And the better news is that Jesus is walking alongside us on that journey. He’s right there with us at every moment of our lives. And He’s urging us to perseverance during this Lenten season.
Henri Nouwen, one of the greatest priest theologians of the 20th century once wrote this: “Lent is a time of returning to God. It is a time to confess how we keep looking for joy, peace, and satisfaction in the many people and things surrounding us without really finding what we desire. Only God can give us what we want. So we must be reconciled with God.”
This season of Lent let’s do just that. Let’s finally be reconciled to God and renew our commitment to persevere in our striving for authentic discipleship.