Red Sox • Spring Training • LENT

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Homily for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

(If you came here looking for the Red Sox and spring training -
be patient: they show up around this homily's fourth inning.  
For folks outside of Red Sox Nation, take my word for it: the
truck in the photo above is a big deal in Boston!)

That tiny snippet of a text from Isaiah  in the first reading
was first addressed to a people
who did indeed fear that God had forgotten them -
so great was their devastation.
You and I may have found ourselves at one time or another
in just such a place when our grief, our problems, our hopelessness,
tempted us to think that we had slipped off God’s radar screen,
that God had somehow forgotten us.

- though the Lord is sometimes silent
when we wish that he would say something…
- and though he’s often absolutely still
when we pray that he would act;
- and though the Lord is often hidden
even when he’s right by our side,
- and though his ways can be mysterious
when we would love to have things plain and clear –
-- yet, in all of this, he never forgets us.

Through our most difficult days and nights
the Lord holds us in the palm of his hand and never forgets us.

But you know, in many ways and through many nights and days
the Lord might wonder if we have forgotten him.
We get wrapped up in our busy lives.
Our time and energy and attention are consumed
by our many tasks and responsibilities.

Do we get so busy that we forget God?

• How often is God waiting for a word from us
--  but there comes only – silence?

• How many times does God expect us to act in faith
but finds us complacent, vegging out?

• How often does God stand right in front of us,
looking for our attention,
but we’re too busy to recognize his presence, his face?

• And are there times when -even to God-
you and I are something of a mystery?
- when we fail to do what’s right,
even when we know the right thing to do;
- when we fail to do so many of the good things we want to do,
need to do, hope to do, plan to do, promise to do – but don’t do;
- when we fail to be generous, though we have so much to share;
- when we fail to find the time to pray
and yet waste so much of the time we have.

It’s easy for us to forget God,
to forget God who never forgets us.

We’re just three days away from Ash Wednesday and Lent.
Of the many ways to talk about Lent,  I’ll suggest this one:
Lent is a time to remember God…

Lent is a time to remember God, not just on Sunday morning,
but to remember God every day, for 40 days and 40 nights.
We all know how easy it can be to forget God,
and that’s why it might take a whole season
to help us more faithfully remember God in our lives.

We might even think of this season of remembering God
as a kind of “spring training” for our Christian lives:
- a time to get back into shape through spiritual exercises;
- a time to practice the skills of Christian living;
- a time to tone up what’s gone soft
and to strengthen what’s become weak.

Three weeks ago the Red Sox equipment truck left Fenway Park
bound for spring training camp in Fort Meyers in Florida.
(For some folks, this is one of the most important days of the year!)
On that truck there were
20,400 baseballs and 1,100 bats,
200 batting gloves and 200 batting helmets,
400 t-shirts and 400 pairs of socks,
20 cases of gum - and 60 cases of sunflower seeds.

This weekend might be a good time for us to get our equipment together
as we head for spring training and a season for remembering God.
But we won’t need a truck – our supplies will be much simpler.

- This weekend’s bulletin includes a handout on the Lenten activities
available in our parish.
- You’ll also find a handout with “spring training diet tips,”
the guidelines for fasting and abstaining from meat in Lent.
- You’ll find a flyer on the Lenten Giving Cups we’ll be distributing
on Ash Wednesday and next weekend
(the proceeds of which will go again this year to “A Bed for Every Child”).
- At the doors of the church today you’ll find special daily prayer books,
a kind of “player’s handbook” for Lent.

Spring training for us, this season for remembering God,
will officially open on this Wednesday, March 5.
On that day you’ll be issued a simple uniform:
a smudge of an ashen Cross on your forehead.
And in our parish, you’ll receive a little wooden pocket Cross,
inscribed with the words,
Come back to me with all your heart… 

In the gospel today Jesus tells us that we can’t serve,
we can’t give our heart to, two masters.
Truth is, many of us try to serve many more than two masters
and in the mix, it can be easy to forget the Lord,
the master we are called to serve above all others.

Jesus also encourages us, in this gospel, not to sweat the small stuff,
not to worry about things that don’t really matter,
but rather, to ponder the most important reality in our life:
our relationship with God.

Lent is a time, a season, for letting go of things we don’t really need
and remembering what’s truly important.
It’s a time to remember God – who never forgets us.

And if we do worry that somehow we’ve slipped off God’s radar screen,
that somehow God has forgotten us,
we have only to look at the Cross
to remember the depths of the Lord’s love for us and his mercy.

He returns to us, he comes back to us with all his heart,
every time we celebrate the Eucharist.
When we remember what he said and did at the Last Supper,
he remembers his promise to be with us and to nourish us
with the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist, at his table, this altar.

Pray with me that this Lent will be for all of us
a season to remember who God is in our lives -
and to return to him with all our heart.


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