In our Christian tradition, introspection is only the beginning. The Lenten season is still new to us; on Wednesday, we received ash on our foreheads and in that act, called to the Creator from the depths of our hearts. We acknowledged Him and welcomed Him to fill us and dwell within us in wholeness during this season. We have contrite hearts; we are humble. But, I hope, we are also comforted – it may be that now, again, we begin to notice the movement of that great creating Spirit within our lives, shaping our thoughts and our actions. For the more our hearts tune to the tender Spirit, the greater the works of compassion we perform.
Our first reading, taken from the ministry of the prophet Isaiah, leaves us thoughtful about the deeper nature of Lent itself. Prayer and action are intrinsically linked and the latter should stem with wisdom and insight from the form, as the Jesuits say. Out of prayer, we find the strength to perform the works of God. From contemplation, we move to action. The prophet urges us; we should feel a pressure and an anxiety, for this, brothers and sisters, is the Spirit of life groaning within us, driving us to action. Feel the groaning of the Spirit. It drives us from the comfort of our homes and from the busyness of our own lives to share with the needy and hurting some of our own inner joy.
Our hearts are filled with great anticipation. The Passion draws near, only a few weeks now separate us from that haunting journey to the cross. We know the route, marked as profoundly by suffering as by surprise and sweet celebration. Can we take our anticipation – the trembling Spirit – and bring that energy to new action? We know we are the Body, so let us now care for all the parts that suffer. Winters here are harsh. Some of us cannot pay for food; some, surely, will grieve at the loss of loved ones; some will need strong hands to shovel away the late snows, to fix frozen pipes; some will need a smiling face to lift them from depression and invigorate them in their old age. We turn outward now, to our own Vermont community — and know that the Body will rejoice on Easter with the Resurrection and the birthing of all things to new life! Our labors will bear fruit. So, let us prepare now, heal the hearts and raise the minds of the suffering to new and joyful thoughts. I challenge us all to do this work, guided by the Spirit.
O God, we tremble so with the Spirit of life. Gather us now to the present, that from contemplation we may move to action and heal the Body, which suffers. O God, how we anticipate You and the coming of Joy! Amen.
Dylan Renca, ‘13
First Reading: Isaiah 58:1-9a
Psalm 51:3-6a, 18-19
Gospel: Matthew 9:14-15
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website