Homily for February 11

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Homily for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass

Because my homily had a number of visual aids in it, I had it videoed - but unfortunately, the audio is not optimal. (When the parish budget allows for it, we're going to install a good system for creating videos of our Sunday liturgy!)

So, here'a link to the video, followed by a widget with the audio I recorded at another liturgy this weekend.  My suggestion is that you watch at least a few minutes of the video to capture the images - but if you're having trouble with the sound, switch to the audio widget.  The text of my homily follows below.


Who knows what we’re celebrating this Wednesday?

(Ash Wednesday!)

Yes, indeed!  Lent begins this week on Ash Wednesday,
February 14,
which is also -  FLIP THE HEARTS
Valentine’s Day.

What a cruel joke the calendar is playing on us this year:
Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s - both on the same day.

So, what are you going to do
if you plan to give up chocolate or sweets or dessert for Lent
beginning on Ash Wednesday,
but your sweetheart sends you a Valentine like this!

I mean…   OPEN THE BOX
just to be polite you’ll have to open up the box and look inside
- right?
And what will you do when you see all of this temptation!

Of course, your Valentine might not send you candy -
perhaps you’ll get something like this.

This arrived just before Mass this morning
from the Concord Flower Shop in West Concord.
There’s a card:  READ THE CARD
TO: My people at Holy Family Parish
FROM: God - with love!

(I’m glad to see that God shops local!)

So, let’s take a look inside…

Well, it’s not what we all thought!  It’ not roses.
It’s a box of Valentines from God.


I love you
and no one has loved you longer than I have:
I loved you before you were born,
before you were conceived,
before all time began... 

I love you
and no one holds you closer than I do:
I'm right by your side 24/7/365,
I'm truly your BFF...

I love you
and no one loves you more mercifully than I do:
I freely forgive you
- and forgive you again and again -
I'll always give you a clean slate,
a fresh start, a second chance,
a new beginning...

I love you
and no one loves you more deeply than I do:
I dwell in your heart, in your heart of hearts,
I make my home in the depths of your soul...

I love you
and no one loves you more joyfully than I do:
I delight in the person I made you to be,
I love you more than you know
or dream or can imagine...

I love you
and no one loves you more passionately than I do,
I gave my Beloved Son on the Cross for love of you:
now I call you my chosen,
I call you my beloved,
I call you my own...

I love you
and no one loves you more graciously than I do:
I love you more than anyone else has loved you,
more than anyone loves you right now,
more than anyone ever can, or ever could
or ever will love you -
I love you more than all of these…

I love you  -  with a love that is pure mystery:
for just when you may think
I’ve forgotten or abandoned you
it is then that I am closest to you
inviting you more deeply into the mystery of my love…

Well, there are four more
(see below for four more Valentines)
a dozen “long-stemmed Valentines,”
but I think we get the message:
God is trying to tell us something!

In today’s gospel story, Jesus reached out and touched the leper,
healing him and restoring him to the community -
that’s what’s meant by sending the man off to see the priests.
Lent, the season that begins this Ash Wednesday,
on Valentine’s Day this year,
Lent is a season of opening up our hearts and minds and our lives,
of opening ourselves up to God’s deep and abiding love for us.
Lent is a time, a whole season,
for inviting the Lord to reach out to us and to touch us
with his healing love, with his cleansing mercy,
with his forgiving touch.

Lent is a season for believing that God loves us:
a season for remembering God’s message of love,
his word of love made flesh for us
in the person, in the gift of his Son, Jesus.

Giving up chocolate or sweets or dessert for Lent
might have some helpful effect in our lives
but not nearly as much as finding ways to open our hearts
to the love God shared with us in these Valentines.

Lent is a time for sending a Valentine to the Lord
and pledging our renewed faith and trust in his love for us.

I hope you saw the banners hanging outside over the church doors
and if you missed them- there’s one inside, too!
Come, find the peace within.

We’re adopting this as a parish catchphrase
to renew us, who are already here
and to invite in those who aren’t yet with us
or who have been away for sometime to come in,
into our church and our community,
into the peace that is ours in Christ.

The phrase admits of two readings, two meanings:

 “Come find the peace within this church,
within our parish, within our work and prayer together.”

And second:
 “Come find the peace within each of us,
the peace of God’s love, living in our hearts,
the love God offers us,
a love beyond measure,
a love beyond our hopes and dreams,
a love beyond anything we deserve.

Lent begins this Wednesday.
Each of us will need to figure out how to balance
Ashes and Valentines on the same day.

But for now, let us go to the Lord’s Table.
Come - and find the peace within…

Four more “long-stemmed” Valentines
to make a dozen!

I love you  -  and no one loves you
more fully, more deeply, more completely than I do:
for indeed, I Am Love
and I abide in you and you in me,
for ever and ever…

I love you
and no one loves you more wisely than I do:
I guide you through all of your troubles,
my wisdom and counsel are my gifts to you…

I love you
and no one loves you more faithfully than I do:
my love for you is abiding, unfailing, and perfect -
I love you with no strings attached...

I love you
and no one loves you more freely than I do:
for no one and nothing binds me to love you -
my love for you is pure gift, freely offered and freely given…


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