A reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah 7:23-28
Thus says the LORD: This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper. But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed. They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me. From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day, I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets. Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed; they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers. When you speak all these words to them, they will not listen to you either; when you call to them, they will not answer you. Say to them: This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the LORD, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.
REFLECTION : "They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs , not their faces , to me."
At the Annunciation, God physically entered Mary's life. It was at that moment that God entered the human race and through his birth, death and resurrection He changed the course of our relationship with Him. God lives in us and He is forever present in our lives. What obstacles prevent us from experiencing His presence? Are we too busy with the noises of the morning radio, drive to and from work, the overbearing boss, the family obligations and the chit chat at the lunch room? Do we ever find peace and consolation in a busy life?
Or do we have desires for material goods that demand we put off praying, going to church or meditating on the presence of God and His many consolations? Though we have a life to live in this world, do we ask God to remove the roadblocks that make us turn away from Him? ( Jeremiah 7:23-28) Do we ask to have fear, distrust, sorrow, self pity,annoyances and spiritual defects removed so that we can better enter into the presence of God?
Almost half way through Lent, may we ask God for the little changes needed in our lives for this long awaited celebration of the Resurrection. Forgive someone who hurt you, apologize for hurting someone, give a gentle and careful word of encouragement to those struggling, a hug, a smile, an invite to eat. Call a friend, visit a friend, be kind to the poor and the homeless.
Birdie C was a very prayerful woman. She had a very aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis and she lost her ability to use her arms, or walk. She became extremely forgetful and through a long unsuccessful course of therapy, she finally died. She managed, in the course of her illness, to still go to mass, pray what she could remember, and when she could no longer pray, her husband prayed on her behalf . She had abandoned herself to God's will and courageously faced her illness. God's grace was forever present in her life, as she had always made room for God in her daily busy career as a legal secretary. She pursued God and held on tightly to His love and showed me how to love with abandonment.
May we not overlook the Kingdom of God that lives in us and is forever present in us. May our priests connect with their parishioners, and show them the road to heaven with its many consolations on the way.