Experience the Forgiving Love of God
My Dear Brothers, Sisters and Children,
Once again we have begun our Lenten Journey as a special time of conversion and growth. The primary purpose of Lent is the spiritual preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ death and Resurrection. The term metanoia literally means change of mind. The Jewish expression ‘turning away’ signifies abandoning one’s wrongdoings and striking out in a new direction. Lent calls for the reorientation of one’s life and behavior, changing one’s way of thinking and acting with a view to abandon the way of sin. Metanioa leads to a radical change of heart and an awareness of our true relationship with the loving God. It results in a new way of envisioning one’s self in relation to God and the world. It suggests conversion, repentance, sorrow for one’s sins, the avoidance of self-righteousness, presumption, pride and more. Lent is the appropriate time for a profound re-examination of life because Lent offers us the opportunity to examine our lives and to clear away the things that keep God at a distance. It is the perfect time to contemplate the many ways forgiveness restores our relationships with God, with each other and with ourselves. It is the perfect time to allow God’s love to soften hardened hearts and unforgiving nature. Lent is a time to remember that God’s very nature is love and that forgiveness necessarily derives from love, that God is sensitive and vulnerable to our pains and struggles, and that no matter how far away we find ourselves from God, He is always longing for us, seeking to renew and restore our relationship with Him.
The love and forgiveness of God is everlasting as He is always searching for the lost and waiting for his/her return to Him with repentant hearts. He calls out, “Return, rebel Israel, I will not remain angry with you; for I am merciful, I will not keep my anger forever.” “Return, rebellious children! I will heal your rebellions.”(Jer. 3:12, 22).To those who repent of their sins God gives a second or a third chance to make things right and move forward in life and be successful. “Turn back to the Lord and give up your sins, pray before him and make your offenses few.” How great is the mercy of the Lord and His forgiveness for those who return to him!(Sir 17:25,29). Scripture narrates how God saved the life of Cain when he asked for mercy and was pleased to save his life (Gen 4:13-15). King David sinned against God with Bathsheba and tried to hide his sin from God. But prophet Nathan revealed to David the injustices and sins David had committed against his army chief, Uriah. Even though David had to suffer the consequence of his sins, the Lord forgave him and gave another chance to live. “Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered David: “For his part, the Lord has removed your sin. You shall not die,”(2 Sam 12:13) Jesus knew repentance and sorrow of the sinner when people wanted to throw stones at the woman who was caught in the very act of committing adultery. “Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She replied, ‘No one, sir.’ Then Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” (Jn. 8:10-11) Whenever we approach the Lord with a truly repentant heart He will forgive us and embrace us in His love.
Each year the Church gives us fifty days to take a long, loving look at our lives to see if our values and priorities are in line with God’s desires for us. Since most of us find that we’ve wandered from God’s path, Lent gives that second chance, or do-over, to “return to God with our whole heart.” During this Lent let us acknowledge that we are a sinful people and that our imperfections hurt us and others in ways that can be very damaging. As sinners, we usually hurt the people who are closest to us, our parents, spouses and children, friends and co-workers. Let us cry out for help saying, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am not worthy to be called your son or daughter.” The Father will respond with love and joy in these words: “You were lost and are found, you were dead and have now returned to life. (Lk. 15-11-32) This is the prodigal love of God, the endless mercy and forgiveness that are available to us through the power of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.
Few suggestions for our parish family;
1. Participate in the Mass and Adoration of the Blessed sacrament with personal prayer and reflection each day of Lent.
2. Participate in the Lenten Retreat with love for the Word of God and make a fruitful confession which will make you a new person, ready to win the world for the Lord.
3. Spend time on self-examination and reflection. Identify positive and negative behavioral pattern. Try hard to change the negative into the positive.
4. Make a decision to stop gossips and to focus on the goodness of each other to build a positive community.
5. Set aside some money we might spend on ourselves for meals, entertainment or clothes and give it to an organization which takes care of the less fortunate in our society.
Wishing you all a Happy and fruitful Lent.
Fr. Mathew Elayadathamadam, MSFS