Today pilgrims made their way to the Basilica da San Lorenzo in Lucina. This church lies nestled in a quiet piazza. Just a few yards away one finds the busy Via del Corso lined with boutiques and shops. Contrasting the quiet church piazza and the busy via offers a great Lenten reminder. It calls to mind this season’s invitation to take some steps back from the interests of this world to reflect instead on God and to seek first His Kingdom.
In the Gospel we hear Christ tell the scribe, “you are not far from the Kingdom of God.” Christ speaks these words just as much to each of us today as he did to the scribe in the Gospel. We do well to remember that we believe the Kingdom exists both “already” and “not yet.” While the fulfillment of the Kingdom will be marked with Christ’s return, we nevertheless believe that through his Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection it has already been inaugurated. Each one of us can here and now draw closer to the reality of that Kingdom. For Catechumens and Candidates, they will do so at the Easter Vigil by being fully received into the Church. For others, drawing nearer to the Kingdom this Lent may involve returning to the practice of the faith and/or seeking the sacrament of Reconciliation. For most of us, I imagine that drawing near to the Kingdom lies in the small daily conversions which aim to bring us closer to God. Often this is the fruit we desired from our Lenten practices.
Our Call to Rejoice
This Sunday the Church marks Laetare Sunday. She invites us to “rejoice!” as we cross this threshold over the midpoint of Lent and, more importantly, come closer to the Resurrection, Christ’s victory over sin and death on our behalf, which serves as the true source of our joy. This midpoint provides a wonderful opportunity to take stock of our Lenten practices. For some of us this will be a cause for rejoicing and giving thanks as we take note at how God has used these practices to turn us more towards Himself. For others of us it is still a cause for rejoicing! Although we may have experienced difficulty up to this point with our practices, there is still time and God is generous! Just recall the parable of the landowner (Mt 20:1-16). He paid the laborers he called at the waning hours of the day the same amount as those who had been at work from the early morning.
Written by Francisco Aquirre
Photos by Fr. Justin Huber