When my vision of God is eclipsed...

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Homily for the First Sunday of Lent
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

On Friday afternoon I was driving west in Concord center on Route 62
and the sun was a glorious golden fireball above the horizon.
I hoped to take a picture of it on my way to West Concord
and thought that the slow, late afternoon traffic would allow for that.
Well, the traffic slowed but after I had passed Concord Academy,
the trees and roof tops hid the sun from my sight.

It wasn’t that the sun had slipped out of sight below the horizon,
the sky was still bright with sunlight but my perspective,
compared to the relative openness of Concord center,
was now obscured by bare tree branches
and two story houses.
The sun hadn’t set, far from it,
but my sight of it was eclipsed by the most ordinary things.

Keep that scene in mind as you ponder St. Paul’s words today:
“The word is near you,
in your mouth and in your heart -- the word of faith…”

Is the word of faith near you, near me?
in our mouths and in our hearts?

I very much believe it is – it’s that same word of faith
that brought us here today.

But that word (as near, as bright, as real as it may be)
that word, like the sun, can often be eclipsed in our vision
by the most ordinary things:
eclipsed by phone calls and emails and texts,
by too much work or the need to find a job,
by over-scheduled lives, by finances and fears,
by worries and troubles and illness,
by talk and music and noise without a moment of true silence,
by a hundred different distractions marking the landscape
as you and I travel the routes our lives take.

When I was driving down Main Street on Friday,
it seemed that the sun disappeared, but of course it didn’t.

And no matter how busy or troubled are my nights and days,
the Lord and his word don’t go away,
even if my schedule and my worries eclipse its presence before me,
the word is always in my heart,
always in my mouth,
on the tip of my tongue.

As you’ve probably already realized, my mistake on Route 62
was that I didn’t pull over in Concord center
when that golden orb was so clearly in my line of vision.
I kept moving.
I was too hurried to stop.
I thought I’d catch it on the way.
And that’s how, that’s why I lost sight of its beauty.

Lent’s a time for remembering that the word of the Lord is near me:
in my heart and in my mouth;
it’s a time for recognizing all the ordinary things that limit my horizon,
that eclipse my view of God,
that tempt me to hurry so much that I haven’t got time
to sit, every day, quietly, in prayer, just to be with the Lord.

Lent’s a season for slowing down,
for pulling over to the side of the road,
for finding a place as free of distractions as I can find,
for spending some time with the Lord
and basking in the golden light of his presence.

Lent’s a time for finding the word that is always so near
to nourish my mind and my heart and my soul.
Lent’s a time for recalculating the pace at which I live my life,
for taking inventory of the schedule that drives my life.

Lent’s a time for remembering where God is in my life
and slowing down to meet him again.

As St. Paul wrote, the word is near and it’s there
to nourish my hunger for truth;
to slake my thirst for peace of mind;
to guide me through the tangle of choices and decisions
that are mine to discern and to make;
and to strengthen me when temptation comes my way.

Lent is a season for remembering that God’s word is near
and for remembering that I need that word every day.
That’s why we do things like give out these little pocket crosses.
Something to keep on your person or by your bed
or at your desk or in your purse – or on your dashboard;
something to remind you over and over
that the Lord and his word are near,
in our hearts and on the tip of our tongues.

So, maybe you didn’t get ashes on Wednesday.
Maybe you haven’t given Lent a thought.
Maybe you haven’t a clue about what you might give up for Lent.
Maybe your vision of God, your perspective on this season,
is eclipsed by any number of problems and distractions,
worries and burdens.

Take a little cross home with you today.

Keep it where you’ll see it every day.

Stop every day and pray with it in your hands.

Let Lent begin now.

Here at the Altar where the Lord comes near to our hearts,
remember that the word is near, the word of faith,
the word the Lord speaks to you, this Lent.


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