Homily for March 3

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

• Have you ever tried Oreo Cookie Pancakes?
Neither have I!
If you’d like to try some, you can order them
between now and mid-April at any IHOP in the United States.
The recipe for Oreo Cookie Pancakes was developed by
a 7 year-old - Brody Simoncini of Worcester -
who won a national contest to get his creation featured
on the IHOP menu.
Brody was born with omphalocele a birth defect.
Brody was born with most of his abdominal organs
outside his body - because of a hole in his navel area.
After years of surgeries and hospitalizations,
Brody is now a pretty regular 7-year-old boy
and his organs are no longer outside
- they’re safely tucked inside, where they belong.

• A week ago Friday Dr. Stanley Ashley, took a scalpel,
poked around inside my abdomen,
and took a piece of my colon “outside” my body, disposed of it,
and then put me back together again.
I’m grateful to God, to you for your love and prayers,
and to Dr. Stanley and the staff at the Brigham in Boston.
“Insides and outsides…”
Sirach, today, called us in this same direction:
to look at the inside source of our outside words and deeds.

And in the gospel today, Jesus invites us to look inside,
inside our eyes and inside our hearts.
• He asks us to see
what might be clouding our vision of our neighbor,
obscuring the reality of what’s outside, right in front of us.
He asks us to check inside the eyes of our souls for cataracts
that might prevent us from seeing life outside and around us
as it truly is  -- as the Lord truly calls us to live it.
• And he invites us to test the soil inside our hearts
to see if it’s dry, sandy and barren  -  or rich, moist and fertile -
to help us understand the harvest
our hearts are yielding on the outside,
good fruit or rotten fruit

Insides and outsides…
Right before us, right on our doorstep, is Ash Wednesday
and the beginning of Lent,
and Lent is an “inside - outside” season.
A little longer than a month, the 40 days of Lent are set aside
to help us look at our lives - inside and out.
To look on the outside and take an inventory
of our words and our deeds:
are they loving and just?  are they true and pure?
are they faithful and gracious?  are they genuine and sincere?
And to look on the inside to find, to see,
to understand the source
of whatever fruit hangs outside, on the trees of our lives.

Lent is a time to take a look inside,
a season to do some spring-cleaning of our minds and hearts,
Spring-cleaning for the soul - that’s what Lent is.

Lent is a season for spring training,
a season to exercise, by way of prayer, fasting and generous giving,
to exercise and get our Christian lives in shape - inside and out!
Even the Red Sox are in spring training -
certainly we can join them in some spring training for the soul.

At it’s heart, Lent is  a season meant to prepare us,
to get us ready, inside and out, to celebrate Easter.
Over the next couple of months
many of us will spring clean our homes.
We might even get our cars detailed
to get rid of winter’s mud and grime.
We might start thinking about watching what we eat
to be ready for spring and summer clothing.

In my letter in the bulletin this weekend, I write that this Lent,
God is about to do something in your life and in mine.
God is about to do something in your life and in mine.
And what God wants to do in our lives
he’ll want to do that inside and out.

Let’s not allow Ash Wednesday to take us by surprise this week.
Let’s start now to look inside and out
and to see how, in the season ahead of us,
how the grace of the One who died for us,
the One who calls us here to his table today,
how that grace will strengthen and prepare us
for whatever he has in store for us this Lent.

(And if you’re thinking of trying those Oreo Cookie Pancakes-
you should probably do so soon
because they sound like something
you might want to give up for Lent!)


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