Here we are, at the threshold of Lent. One more Sunday in Ordinary Time, and then Shrove Tuesday. What is our plan? How shall we make this Lent? To me, after some reflection, and not a great deal of original thought, the whole process is about holiness. We tend to think of Lent as a time of self-denial, of things that we are going to do or not do. Unless we see our Lenten practice in the light of growing in holiness, then there is no point to it. Our ministers' discussion group is taking up the reading of Newman's 1st parochial and plain sermon: Holiness without which no one shall see the Lord. It is well worth the reading by anyone who seeks an understanding of why we must be holy, and that holiness is a transformation into Christ by conforming ourselves more and more to the divine model.
The traditional works of Lent, prayer, fasting, and alms-giving, give us the means to reflect on our situation, to grow in charity, and to temper our desires and felt needs to a simpler reality. Lent becomes for us a communal catechumenate: we become as neophytes preparing for the great Pasch of our salvation. John the Baptist is heard again: Repent!
The Jews of John's day had ritual baths (baptisms) that were to be used for the rites of taking a gentile into the people of Israel. For John to preach baptism to those who were already Jews was to tell them that they must all become new to everything about God and themselves. They were to start over.
Lent is our start-over, our renewal time. Make wise use of it.
Collect: Graciously hear our prayers, Lord, we entreat you; free us from the chains of sin and defend us against all adversity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.