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"Return to the Lord and give up sin." —Sirach 17:20
In today's eucharistic readings, the Church gives us a Lenten "trailer," to use movie terminology. Today's first reading from Sirach fits well on Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent in two days. "Turn again to the Most High and away from sin, hate intensely what He loathes" (Sir 17:21). "Return to the Lord and give up sin, pray to Him and make your offenses few" (Sir 17:20). "But to the penitent He provides a way back" (Sir 17:19).
"Happy is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered. Happy the man to whom the Lord imputes not guilt, in whose spirit there is no guile" (Ps 32:1-2). "Then I acknowledged my sin to You, my guilt I covered not. I said, 'I confess my faults to the Lord,' and You took away the guilt of my sin" (Ps 32:5).
If you find the discipline of Lent difficult and prefer not to prolong it by even two days, today's Gospel reading encourages you that "with God all things are possible" (Mk 10:27). Jesus Himself knows that it is hard to enter the kingdom of God (Mk 10:24). The challenges of Lent may seem as difficult as a camel passing through the eye of a needle (Mk 10:25). Nevertheless, embrace the narrow way. May the Lord God transform you into a new creation this Lent (2 Cor 5:17). May you joyfully be crucified to the world and the world to you (Gal 6:14).
Prayer: Father, may I receive the grace of repentance now, so that this will be the most grace-filled and fruitful Lent of my life.
Promise: "He encourages those who are losing hope!" Sir 17:19
Praise: St. Casimir dedicated his short life to his Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary rather than seeking earthly rule or a wife.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 24, 2018
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