Preparing for Lent 2016

Today is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time. This is the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent. This upcoming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the 40 day Season of Lent.

During Lent, we will make a renewed effort to turn away from sin and draw closer to God. Our sins are forgiven through the Holy Sacrament of Penance also called Confession. We also receive graces through this sacrament to help us not to commit sin. Consequently, we should go to Confession regularly especially during the Season of Lent. It is a precept of the Church to go to Confession at least once a year, but going to Confession once a month or once a week is a great means of growing in holiness.

Furthermore, growing in holiness helps us to serve God. The first Mass reading in today’s Liturgy is from the Book of Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah’s experience echoes the need to turn from sin in order to draw closer to God and serve Him.

“… I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne,
with the train of His garment filling the temple.
Seraphim were stationed above.

They cried one to the other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!
All the earth is filled with his glory!”
At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook
and the house was filled with smoke.

Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed!
For I am a man of unclean lips,
living among a people of unclean lips;
yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me,
holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

He touched my mouth with it, and said,
‘See, now that this has touched your lips,
your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ ‘Here I am,’ I said; ‘send me!'” ~Isaiah 6: 1-2,3-8

The Gospel reading from today’s Mass Liturgy reminds us that growing in holiness is connected to serving God. In this reading, Jesus enables the apostles to  catch many fish to foreshadow that they would soon serve Him by bringing many people back to God.

“Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
He asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then He sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After He had finished speaking, He said to Simon,
‘Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.’
Simon said in reply,
‘Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.’
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man’.
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men’.
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed Him.”~ Luke 5: 3-11

Simon (the apostle Peter) recognized that Jesus had done something miraculous to cause them to catch so many fish. Simon knew that he was in the presence of God and called Jesus ‘Lord.’ Furthermore, Jesus had done this to foreshadow that as His followers they would bring men from all the nations of the earth back to God .  Just as in the first reading when the prophet Isaiah answered God’s call to service, the apostles answered God’s call. Furthermore, this work of bringing people to salvation will continue through the Church until the end of time when Jesus Christ returns.

May we grow in holiness and serve the Lord!

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