Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Lent’s personal renewal is not devotionally eccentric. It invites me to become more absorbed in Jesus, especially through the mysteries of his life, death and resurrection so that I can more freely act like him. The Lenten pillars of prayer, fasting and acts of charity form its program.
This annual program calls us to personal renewal together. The more I renew my life and the way I live my life; the more you renew your life and the way you live your life; and you; and you; and you; and you--indeed all Christians together, then the more visible, attractive as well as challenging our risen Messiah Jesus is in our world.
Making Jesus more visible, attractive and challenging to oppressive and unloving ways of the world goes by the name evangelization. To evangelize, that is, to spread the gospel, is each Christian’s vocation.
Personal renewal is not self-improvement; it is to become more like our Messiah, to be sharper images of him to the world. Personal renewal is not self-help; it asks for the power of God’s life to reshape me, and I cooperate with it. Living the commandments are one I cooperate.
The commandments were meant to shape a community of evangelizing people, they are not merely a personal, spiritual checklist. As Moses proclaimed not to one but to all the people the Lord led out of slavery,
Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’When Jesus told his disciples to teach the commandments, Jesus did not tell them to become religious professionals. Jesus told them to give evidence by their ways of living. Lent invites us to become more faithful witnesses, who give evidence the same way to make Jesus more visible, attractive and challenging to our world.
Wikimedia photo is in the public domain.