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Imperishable, Undefiled and Unfading


“When you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~ Winston Churchill

In today’s 1st Reading (1 Peter 1:3-9), we’re given a reminder of the importance of endurance and perseverance, as the Rock of our Church keenly puts things in perspective when he says “…although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, and more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, they proved to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

As we prepare for the Lenten Season, one wherein we journey through the desert with Jesus so as to strengthen ourselves while growing in our trust of a God who loves and fight fir his children, it’s critical to remember that trials and tribulations will surely come, but just as surely, they too will pass. Jesus’ life is a microcosm of this reality.

We just finished up a two week liturgical jaunt through the Letter of Saint James, an Epistle centered squarely on the cultivation of perseverance, in both faith and deeds As Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton once said, “You think it very hard to lead a life of such restraint unless you keep your eye of faith always open. Perseverance is a great grace. To go on gaining and advancing every day, we must be resolute, and bear and suffer as our blessed forerunners did. Which of them gained heaven without a struggle?”

There are many in the secular world who wonder what is the purpose of Lent. This forty days, forty-four this year actually, wherein the followers of a Christ are called to pray, fast and guve alms. The number “40” in scripture represents trial and testing. It represents “a long time” for lack of a better explanation. We know for example that Noah found himself in the midst of a 40 day flood. For 40 years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. And of course Jesus spent 40 days in the desert. It was there that Satan tried to tempt Jesus in a way that would be real and distract him for being who he was and doing what he was called to do. Satan does that to us as well. Constantly. This is why we must be formed fortified and made stronger during this Liturgical Season of Lent.

When we reflect upon the Israelites and their 40 years in the wilderness, a glaring reality continues to rear itself: The Israelites, quite frankly didn’t want to fight, and they didn’t trust that God will fight for them. He simply lacked faith. Because of your lack of faith and fortitude, the language in wandered aimlessly in the desert for 40 years. It did not have to be that way. Similarly, for these 40 days of lent, God wants to train you and I to be fighters. Make no mistake, Jesus is the Warrior King and the battle has already been won, But we are each called to do our part.

Whatever it is. Whatever it takes. To do battle with ourselves and with our sinfulness. To “show up,” even in our weakness, and to have faith and trust in God that he will do everything that we cannot. This is what God’s grace does. It “fills in the gaps,” but in fact it is God’s grace that allows us to do that which we can do. God our father will fight with us and for us.

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In today’s Gospel (Mark 10:17-27), wherein we revisit the tragic tale of the rich young man who chose to cling to his possessions rather than follow God, it’s interesting to note Jesus‘s response to this young man as he addresses our Lord as “Good teacher.” “Why do you call me good?“ Jesus asks him, going on to explain that “No one is good but God alone.”

God is good. We can become good. But only if we take up the fight and trust in God. Only if we persevere and endure. The Lenten journey is merely a 40 day microcosm of the journey we gave been on since our birth that will conclude only when we’ve breathed our last. When we walk with Jesus, during Lent or any other time. we must remember that that is the only walk that matters. All other walks are temporary. The walk with Jesus culminates in an inheritance e that is indeed, as Saint Peter describes it, “ and inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.” (1 Peter 1:4).

“In Heaven, I will know the reason behind every pain and heartache during my earthly sojourn, and I will exclaim, “how great thou Art give me so much for so little!“ ~ Mother Angelica

For a deeper reflection on today’s Gospel, please revisit the following essay:

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