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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Lent 4: Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Through the Prophet Isaiah, the Church specifies what is to be accomplished through our Lenten observance: a new way of being and living in the world, a way of being and living that carries with it a permanent blessing. So we are encouraged to be fully engaged in the project the Lord sets before us these 40 days.

But there is always the danger of formalism: “giving up” something or undertaking some pious exercise primarily as an exterior action that makes us feel better about ourselves. But if this is our motivation, we sabotage what should be the goal: conversion of heart. Unless Lent touches the depths of the “I,” challenging me to examine closely where I derive my energy for living, all the personal sacrifices and prayers I offer will be to no avail.

The call of Matthew in today’s Gospel is a perfect vignette for understanding Lent: changing our focus from the activities and concerns of this world to be with the Lord and hear his voice. Wherever we may be at the moment, spiritually and emotionally, he desires more than we to enter into communion with us and permanently change our gaze—our way of looking at all things. This is the conversion of heart that saves and is the “reason for the season.”

Father Joseph Dionne, C.Ss.R.
Newton Grove, N.C.

Scripture readings for today: Isaiah 58:9-14; Psalm 86; Luke 5:27-32