In today’s First reading at Mass, taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, we are presented with the prayer of the Jewish man to God on presenting to Him the first-fruits of all the Lord had given to him. In a few short – actually long! – sentences, he summarises all the Lord has done for him since the call of Abraham, through the formation and election of Israel; her persecution at the hands of the Egyptians; to her deliverance and after wandering in the desert, at last, entering into and taking possession of the land given to her by God. (That was a fairly good imitation of the long sentences!!)

And this is the First Sunday of Lent; that time of year again – already – when we know we would like to make a concerted effort to be cleansed of everything that separates us from God; prevents us from living as He invites us to, in Jesus. And with all our good intentions, for most of us, we’ll have fallen by the end of the first week, if we haven’t fallen already.

What can we do that would seem worthwhile and a real expression to God of our love for Him and our gratitude for His mercy and unfailing nearness: for the wonder of His love?

In this prayer, I would dare to suggest, is a very profitable and healthy undertaking; one that may not seem to be much – but in this age of dismissal of God as a necessary ‘element’ of our lives – maybe after all, it would be well worth considering. An act of faith in this Year of Faith.

Two Big Words!

Acknowledgement and Thanksgiving
‘He brought us here and gave us this land,
a land where milk and honey flow.
Here then, do I bring the first-fruits of the soil
that you, Lord, have given me.’

Lent is a place of grace, as we know – a place, now, where you can most intensely know, accept and believe the truth about God: that He has made you for Himself, and wants you to begin even now to live in communion with Him, so that you may be prepared for the wonder and light and joy of eternity in Him, when He calls you home: so great is His love for you.

This Lent is a place where milk and honey flow: the milk and honey of the love of the Lord … for you. And if you try to imagine how strong and ‘overpowering’ that love is – only think of Jesus: in the garden; being whipped and scourged and spat upon; hanging and gasping for breath; pouring out His life’s blood – His love for you gave Him physical pain beyond anything we could ever imagine. And the amazing thing – this is milk and honey to Him. You are worth every second of what He went through for you – you. This Lent, it would be good, would it not, to let yourself believe that and to accept the gift .. and to be grateful.

The pilgrim in Deuteronomy mentions the return he offers to God: the first-fruits – what seems to me to be the best of himself. When I look to the Lord and believe that where I am now, wherever I am – this physical place, maybe emotional place – is where I have been brought: God has brought me here.

Do I have the courage to acknowledge that as a gift of love from Him? Dare I say ‘thank you?’ Can I find the goodness in this place where I am; look hard for it if it is not plainly seen?

God has brought me here – it seems that what then I must do is to give Him the best of myself, here, where I am; and not save the best of me for somewhere else, that may not even yet exist. Do I have the courage to love God here and now? And if it seems to be beyond my strength – can I ask for the grace from Him to be able to love Him? He is infinitely patient; He is there in the struggle; He is the Only One who truly knows. Can you let Him in?