February 23, 2014

Sexagesima Sunday

 Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods: once I was stoned: thrice I suffered shipwreck: a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea. In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren: In labour and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
St. Paul 

Today we celebrate Sexagesima Sunday, just 10 days before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Great Lenten Fast.  As we draw near to Lent we are reminded that suffering is a part of life.  Why is suffering a part of life?  Because of sin.  One thing we do not comprehend, do not want to comprehend is how deeply sin offends God. How great even venial sin offends Him.  

Suffering is a blessing because through suffering God gives us the circumstances to draw ourselves to Him.  Sometimes we see some of the most beautiful people suffer what appears to be great injustices and wonder why?  I think it is because God knows that these people... these saintly people... will use their suffering as an act of love for God by accepting it willingly.  Does the willingness take the pain away? No it does not. Christ, during His Passion and Death felt pain yet accepted it willingly.  Our Blessed Mother was so unified with Her Son and willingly suffered with Him.

It is only through suffering that we will find true Joy.  I would suspect God sends us the challenges of every-day life as well as larger crosses because without them we would far too easily find our desires and joys in the things and people of this world.  We would find ourselves content with the good things and forget that we aren't here for this world but for the next... which is Heaven.  Christ gives us the example of how to get there... by carrying our crosses.  

In today's Gospel, we contemplate the parable of the sower and the seed.  We recall that along the way there are those who do not accept the Word of God at all but just travel a well-trodden road, their souls are hardened like a well-traveled pathway, so no seed of Truth can penetrate it.  Then there are those who are unable to endure temptation due to human weakness, so, although they hear the Word of God, it can take no root for the soil of their souls is too rocky.  Next we have the souls of those who hear the Word of God but choke it out due to all the riches and cares of this world. Their souls are thorny.  Then we have the saintly souls who hear the Word of God and keep it, their souls are filled with good soil which is formed through suffering and sacrifice.

As we approach Lent, we should consider how to penetrate our hardened hearts, how to get rid of the rocks and thorns so that we can enrich the soil of our soul to bear good fruit.

What will you be doing for Lent?  This is a great time to prepare!

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