God of Gracious Gestures
This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, which commemorates the beginning of Lent. As we begin the 40 days of Lent on Wednesday in preparation for the Holy Week, this Sunday’s mass Gospel reading from Mark 1: 40-45, introduces us to God of gracious gestures. Jesus cures a leper signifying the reign of Jesus’ kingdom over Satanic influence. Like Peter approached Jesus to seek healing for his mother-in-law, the leper came to Jesus to ask for a cure for his skin disease. This disease excludes him from public worship and community. As a result, he is unable to live a wholesome life; the power of the evil one has broken his life. Moved by faith in Jesus, he pleaded for liberation, and Jesus moved by pity for him cured him.
God of compassion is the One we all shall approach on Ash Wednesday as we come forward in penance to receive ashes. As ashes are sprinkled on our head, our reception is symbolic of acknowledgement of sin, and our neediness of God’s gesture of grace, of his mercy and compassion. Jesus will touch us with his healing grace as we approach him with a contrite heart. As the word of the Scripture says, he has compassion, that is, he shares in our sorrows and pains, and identifies with our struggle against the temptation to sin, and because he has feelings for us, he comes to rid any hold of sin and evil over our soul.
I am happy to share my ongoing faith and encounter with God of grace. I have experienced and encountered God’s compassionate and gracious gestures in various ways and on many occasions, especially in the sacrament of reconciliation. Therefore, in this spirit, I encourage you to take advantage of the additional days or opportunities for confession during the season of Lent. Check bulletins and pay attention to announcements for times of confession during Lent. Nothing destroys the control of sin and Satan over our soul than a good and sincere confession. I invite you to encounter the real Jesus who is full of compassion for all sinners and wants to set them free from the dominion of darkness of sin.
Another word for God’s gesture of grace we have been talking about is love.
As the secular world celebrates Valentine’s day today, we recall not only the gesture of mercy practiced by St. Valentine but celebrate the root of that act embedded in the love of Jesus for all of us sinners. As a gesture of love and my prayers for you to free yourselves of the influence of the diabolic one, I have made available bottles of holy water in the narthex of the church. Take one with you and use as needed. May you be cleansed and cured of any stain of sin in the name of Jesus Christ.
Happy Valentine’s day.
In the love of Christ,
Fr. Bernard, OP