Message from Fr Henry Adler | 1 March 2022
March 1, 2022
The season of Lent is about to begin, and with it the opportunity to renew our faith together as one parish community. The prophet Joel in the first reading of the Ash Wednesday liturgy calls us to come back to God. “Now, now, come back to me with all your hearts…. Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn!”
With these penetrating inaugural words of scripture we are reminded that the season of Lent is about coming back! As such, these words are the foundation for the message God wishes to communicate to us this Lenten season.
This year, this invitation to come back is particularly important. After two years of extraordinary challenges, one filled with much weeping and mourning, when we have fasted from so much of our “normal” lives, it can feel as if we have been living in a prolonged Lent. For many, these two years have been filled with loss: loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, loss of community, loss of normality…. We have been living through a dark time in human history. What we hear from the prophet Joel on Ash Wednesday can be a beacon of light and hope in the midst of that darkness. But in order to hear this invitation and message of hope, we need to come back!
“Now, now, come back to me with all your hearts….
Come back to me… Come back to your Parish Community…
During the long two years of lockdown and restrictions the practice of faith was able to continue in homes thanks to livestreaming of Mass and other devotions on Facebook, YouTube or Zoom. We are certainly grateful for the gift of technology, which enabled us to be connected during these difficult times, but we miss the Real Presence, not only the real presence of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist but also our Real Presence to each other.
Some of us may still have good reasons to feel vulnerable or be concerned due to poor health or senior age, but as the world around us opens up more and more, not only our churches, but also places of business, leisure entertainment or hospitality, this season of Lent calls us to heed to the voice of God, to come back… to come back to Mass… to physically gather in our churches… to not be afraid.
The invitation to come back to God during Lent is a call to return to the loving arms of God, a caring and merciful Father, to trust him, to entrust oneself to him like adopted children, regenerated by his love. The prophet Joel was clear on the urgency of the call: “Now, now….”. St Paul echoes this in the Second Reading, “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” We cannot let this moment pass because it is given to us as a unique and unrepeatable opportunity.
May this 2022 season of Lent bring us closer to God and to one another as a Parish Community.
Yours in Divine Word
Fr. Henry Adler, SVD