Once you realize that the same grace that was offered to the holy men and women of our Lord’s times is offered to you, then your life as a disciple of Jesus, as a Christian begins! As we read in the Gospels, of how often our Lord sat down with His disciples and all those who drew near, to listen and teach them at length. So too, He desires to invest in you on a daily basis. Your daily commitment to prayer: to spending time in the Lord’s presence, listening to Him and opening your heart to Him allows the Lord to bring a newness and freshness to every day that you face and you will experience yourself growing stronger in the Lord. For all those who faithfully hold God’s Word, the Bible, in their hands on a daily basis, you will grow in your knowledge and love for the Lord and for your brothers and sisters.

One of the wounds and chains that prevents us from opening wide our hearts and minds to the Lord is the negative words and judgments that others or we ourselves have spoken over our lives. When someone close to us, one who should be offering words of love, affirmation, encouragement and loving correction, instead pronounces heavy and dark words of judgment and condemnation about our worth, about our very existence, well, that paralyzes us and haunts us!

We cannot enjoy the freedom that Jesus won for us on the Cross unless we bring these chains, and I mean ALL of them, to Jesus! We have to come clean. Tears have to flow from our eyes as we open our heart to Jesus about the hurt we’ve experienced because of the negative words spoken over our lives. Jesus, and Jesus alone is the sole Judge of the living and the dead. He has taught us in His Gospel: let the one who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at the “sinner”! We all know that words hurt more than stones. It goes without saying that Jesus is also addressing our speech. Let the one who is without sin be the first to hurl words of judgment or condemnation upon the “sinner”!

When we open our heart to Jesus and share the hurt we’ve experienced from these judgments, we find that those very judgments then fall silently to the ground. As you gaze into the eyes of Jesus, you become overwhelmed with His love and His great hopes for your life. You are loved! You are precious in His Father’s eyes! You have unique gifts to build up God’s Kingdom! Yes, you may have fallen, but Jesus offers you His hand and teaches you how to avoid sin and stay away from grave sins.

During this Holy Season of Lent, before we celebrate our Lord’s Passover, let us make sure to clean house! If you have spoken negatively of others, or about others, please draw near to Jesus and be reconciled to Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If you still suffer the hurt and chains of negative words spoken over you, make a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Sit in His presence, open your heart, and let the bitterness and darkness come out! In place of sadness and darkness, Jesus will fill you with His light and joy: He loves you, and He is your mighty Savior!

We hold in tension the emotions of this day, Palm Sunday, the joy of the exuberant crowd welcoming Jesus, and the scorn of those so threatened by him as to seek his death. Lord, have mercy. May we make an effort to keep each other in prayer during this Holy Week.

Fr. Michael