suppose that in the past few days you received this
e-mail from God: “Just want to remind you that Lent
begins this week. I was in your area last
Wednesday, but missed you. My Beloved son, Jesus,
really needs your support as he begins his journey
to Jerusalem. Any chance you could go with him?"
Where does each of us stand at the beginning of
the start of another spiritual journey when we look
into our inner selves, do we need to peel away, to
prune from our lives those qualities or habits that
are less than desirable? At the same time should we
add some actions that lead toward a higher standard?
her poem “The Way”, from Ann Weems book, “Kneeling
In Jerusalem”, she wrote, “The way to Jerusalem
looks suspiciously like Rt. 40, (I substitute Rt. 80
or the Garden State, or even Bloomfield Ave.), and
the pilgrims look suspiciously like you and me.”
Weems continues, “I expected this road to be filled
with holy people acting in a holy way, but it is
more like rush hour. There is heavy traffic, much
noise, and people shouting at one another. Is there
no back road to Jerusalem, no help for weary
travelers? Can this hectic highway be the highway
we begin these six weeks of Lent, will we make
certain to take the time to find a place to
meditate? Will we find a sanctuary to regroup and
realign our spirit to allow us to succeed in
reevaluating and making changes so that we can
better serve Jesus?
is a time of preparation, a time to train ourselves
to take-stock of our spiritual life.
lent is not only about ourselves. We are with Jesus
on this journey and are, at least figuratively, on
the road that Jesus took as he made his way from the
countryside of Galilee to Jerusalem. Jesus was
created as a human being; one to experience human
desires, to make human choices , face human
challenges, pain and sorrow. And he was supporting
others rather than receiving the support he longed
Before God sent Jesus forth on his ministry on
earth, he decided to test his strength of character
to withstand the temptation of using his Godly
powers for his personal benefit. He sent Jesus to
the devil for forty days and forty nights to be
offered all kinds of temptations without any
support. The beloved Son faced every temptation with
words of righteousness, and then God sent angels to
care for him.
During Lent we need to face ourselves and reflect on
what is really important for us in conducting our
lives. We may go through times of disappointment,
change, sorrow, or depression, but the gift of God’s
grace carries us on, gets us through, helps us help
others. The bread that Christ can give us helps us
join him on his challenging journey to Jerusalem.
And all along the way he is teaching us, loving us.
It is spring training time in our faith.
comes in the winter but gives way to the spring.
With a difficult winter of snow and ice that does
not want to let go, we still know that in God’s
world, the daffodils and tulips will soon push
through the ground, the leaves will reappear on the
trees, and the air will become bright and balmy.
These events happen, not because of anything we
have done, but due to God’s plan. With God’s help
we have the hope of Easter and the hope of a
future, no matter what that future is, with the
assurance that God will be with us.
I travel to the Children’s Hospital, I am challenged
to minister to children who are in pain and parents,
many of whom have children who are seriously ill.
Some are facing the fact that medicine is not
helping their child and that medical options have
run out, even when every available avenue has been
taken. Without faith and trust in God, there is
absolutely no hope. But with God’s help we never
lose faith that He will be with this family to help
them through whatever may be ahead. It is only with
God’s assistance that I can be present in these
While preparing this message, I came across a note I
had forgotten about on my cluttered desk. The note
was from a teen who had spent a lot of time in the
hospital. The note read, “Thank you for always
being there with kind words or just a listening
ear. It was nice to have someone to talk to while I
was going through chemotherapy.” To listen to those
suffering seems like very little. But each of us
should know how important it is to just be there,
willing to listen.
was alone in the Pastoral Care office one day last
week, a hospital employee brought a man and woman to
the office. The employee said, “These people need
help" and immediately left. I invited them in and
asked them to sit down. They were very poorly
dressed and seemed frail in many ways. These people
evidently were not patients, but when people need
help in Paterson they often come to St. Joseph’s
hospital. I asked how I could help them, and the
woman said the man with her was her son. As the
woman spoke he never said a word except to give his
woman mentioned that she had recently had major
surgery and suffered with a number of other serious
conditions. She was concerned that she might die
and not be received by God. She said she often
could not sleep nights because of some of her past
actions. I said to her, "If you have asked God for
forgiveness, you are forgiven. God loves you." The
woman replied that she has difficulty forgiving
herself. I agreed that it can be difficult, but
when she asks for forgiveness she is truly
forgiven. The conversation continued but I
suggested that when she is tormented to keep saying
to herself, “God loves me, God loves me, God loves
me.” Before she left the woman said, “I want to
give you a hug." And I hugged her also. Sometimes
we all need to listen and assure others who are
suffering, of God’s love for them.
a short time after I went on to the floors of
patients, a doctor, who is in the second year of a
three year internship at the hospital, asked me if
she could speak to me privately She was still
reeling after a very sudden happening, and wondered
if I would speak to the Interns after such a case.
The doctor must have known that I approach every
patient no matter what their religion if it is all
right with them. Also, many of the Interns are not
Christian but Muslim, Hindu, or Jewish. I told her
I would be very willing to meet with them at any
Margaret Mead was a very well known and celebrated
sociologist in the mid twentieth century. I admired
her greatly and followed her studies while I was in
college majoring in Psychology and Sociology and in
the following years until her death. Mead often
spoke words of wisdom to Americans and to the
world. Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group
of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the
world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
is good for us to not lose heart, even when in many
ways the world around us seems to be falling apart.
We can never, never stop trying to make things
better, not for ourselves, but for other people, and
especially for our young people. This is what Jesus
tried to teach. The Church is the body of Christ.
We in the Church are trusted to act in Jesus’ name.
During lent we receive renewal and bread to continue
the Journey. Thanks Be To God.