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Through the Narrow Gate

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Since God revealed himself to Abraham in the Old Testament, all that was ever asked of believers was to have a relationship with Him. This entailed talking to God through prayer and following directions known as commandments. In return, God bestowed all forms of blessings upon them, including children. Children that were to be formed to believe in God as well. Throughout the Old Testament, believers in the one true God struggled but never fully lost faith. By the time history reached the New Testament,
God's people needed a reboot. They had all but lost faith when Jesus arrived on earth to reinvigorate our relationship with God.

In teaching us, suffering for us, dying for us, and rising from the dead for us, Jesus defines the love God has for us and models for us the love we are required to have for God. It is this love, through a relationship with God, that can get us through the narrow gate named in the Gospel.

I don't know about you but I don't want to be left outside the gate. I don't want my loved ones left outside. I don't want anyone left outside. In my mind, to be left outside means that a lifetime was wasted in getting to know Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. In knowing Him, having a relationship with Him through the Mass and the sacraments and engaging with others in a manner that will assist all of us in getting to Heaven, I hope to pass through the narrow gate. No one should be left outside if we do our very best to lift each other up.

A New Commandment

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Mandatum Novum—a new commandment.

This gospel passage, “I give you a new commandment, ” is one of my favorites.  The passage follows Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet on the night before Jesus died. Jesus, no doubt full of anguish, because he knew he was about to be betrayed and of his impending passion, gives them his last words of advice before taking up the cross. With all of the “stuff” our Lord has going on, he still has his mission to fulfill. Within moments, Judas will betray him. In a few short hours, Peter will deny him—not once, but three times! Yet, the Lord shows us yet another example of humility by washing feet.

We all have a mission to fulfill, and we all have “stuff” going on in our lives. The reading and re-reading of this passage gives me cause to think of how I am responding to everyday events in my life. Today is a good day for all of us to evaluate how the Lord’s new commandment is relevant in our lives.

Lord, grant us your humility, that even in our daily trials, to see the opportunities to wash the feet of our brothers and sisters. Let your Mandatum Novum be our Novus Via Vitae—new way of life.

Focus on The Cross

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During the last days of Lent, it’s a common practice to veil all crosses and sacred images. You may have seen this done before with violet cloths in our church.

Why do we do this? If you think about it, the use of crosses and sacred images is central to our Catholic faith. Jesus, by taking on a physical nature in the Incarnation, and by redeeming that physical nature through His saving Death and Resurrection, has made all physical matter a possible means of encounter with Him. This is why we take wood, stone, metal, and other physical “stuff” and make beautiful crosses and images out of them.

But why cover them these last days of Lent if they’re so central to our faith? Because doing so helps us focus on what has made these crosses and sacred images possible in the first place: Jesus’ saving Death and Resurrection. We focus on The Cross, and less on individual crosses; we focus on The Risen Christ, and less on sacred images of Him. We fast with our physical eyes so we can train our spiritual eyes.

While veiling crosses and images is most often done in churches, you can also do it at home. You may find it a fruitful spiritual practice in these last days of Lent. It’s also an opportunity to get rid of those old purple bed sheets you have lying around!

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