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It Isn't All Fun and Games

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Lent isn't supposed to be easy, but the cross is for our own good, says Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, in his homily from the Oratory in the Marian Helpers Center in Stockbridge, Mass., on Wednesday, March 21.

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Here are the readings for the day.

Reading 1

Is 49:8-15

Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you, on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!

To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the ways they shall find pasture,
on every bare height shall their pastures be.
They shall not hunger or thirst,
nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them;
For he who pities them leads them
and guides them beside springs of water.
I will cut a road through all my mountains,
and make my highways level.

See, some shall come from afar,
others from the north and the west,
and some from the land of Syene.
Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth,
break forth into song, you mountains.
For the LORD comforts his people
and shows mercy to his afflicted.

But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me."
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 145:8-9, 13Cd-14, 17-18

R. (8a) The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.

Gospel

Jn 5:17-30

Jesus answered the Jews:
"My Father is at work until now, so I am at work."
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him,
because he not only broke the sabbath
but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.

Jesus answered and said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything that he himself does,
and he will show him greater works than these,
so that you may be amazed.

For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.
Nor does the Father judge anyone,
but he has given all judgment to the Son,
so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
Whoever does not honor the Son
does not honor the Father who sent him.

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word
and believes in the one who sent me
has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.

Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.
For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.

Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life,
but those who have done wicked deeds
to the resurrection of condemnation.

"I cannot do anything on my own;
I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just,
because I do not seek my own will
but the will of the one who sent me."

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Loretta - Mar 25, 2012

I pray that i could listen to these homolies but i dont hear very well ..maybe you could write what you have said ..thankyou

Anonymous - Mar 26, 2012

I am sorry that you are unable to hear with clarity, Loretta. I will transcribe Fr. Gaitley's homily as best I can (and hopefully do so within the character limit):

Fr. Gaitley: Well, I think we have about 11 days left before the end of Lent, beginning of Palm Sunday. If this week were next week, we would have Palm Sunday to look forward to. This week though; it's getting to the last doldrums of Lent, and it sort of reminds me of an email I got this morning, and it was a friend of mine who I talked to; he offered to help with some of the projects that I am working on here at the Marian Helpers center. So I shared with him, "Well, I am involved with this, I am doing this, I'm doing this. And this guy is very talented, and I sent him an email. I said, "Well, what would you like to do?". In other words, "how would you like to help me?" And he sent me an email back this morning, and he said, "What would I like to do? I would like to spend the next 22 years in my parents' basement playing video games and eating mac 'n cheese [laughter], but what would YOU want me to do?" And I thought that was funny because Lent is not easy. The Christian life is easy. Jesus says His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

CONVERSION is not easy. Turning away from sin, turning away from addiction, turning away from our creature comforts that we go to outside of God. That's not easy. And sometimes when we feel the vice grip of Lent which if its working, there are certain crosses that the Holy Spirit allows us to carry during this time, so that we have an experience to say yes to deepening conversion.

So if we're going through that we may feel sort of similar to how my friend felt, being in their parents' basement. For me it wouldn't be video games it would be to watch movies and maybe eat Mexican food, but either way we sometimes during Lent, during the process of conversion, we wanna escape, we wanna run to creature comforts and its a reminder to us, that email is a reminder to us, that "No, that is not what we want to do, we want to do what God wants to do, we wanna do what Jesus wants to do; Jesus, who as we read in today's Gospel, does the will of the Father. And that's why he's the Son, 'cause He does the Father's will. That's what we're trying to do. And right now during the season of Lent, the Father's Will is that we focus on conversion. We try to deepen our life of prayer, we try to break away from sin, we try and break away from addiction and vices and things like that.

Now, God in His Mercy and Goodness, has given us some passages today that are deeply consoling on the end stretches of Lent. And mother nature is also merciful to us in that we just started the first day of Spring yesterday, so even we've had nice weather. So the Lord is giving us some consolation because He recognizes conversion's not easy and he likes to console and encourage us, and he gives us some beautiful words. I'd like to read a couple of them. We reflect on this as God's words to us in the marathon of Lent, right? It can sometimes seem that way. He says, "Along the ways, they shall find pasture. On every bare height, shall their pastures be."

One thing that St. Ignatius of Loyola says is the bad spirit likes to make us think that when we are in a time of desolation or darkness and that it has always been this way and it is always going to be this way, and God is saying, "No!". Along the way we WILL find pastures, and every bare height shall our pastures be. So even in the barrenness we will find pasture. (*note*, again Fr. Gaitley quotes the Lord) "They shall not hunger or thirst, nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them, for He who pities them leads them, and guides them beside springs of water". No, he does not abandon us. (*note*, Father continues with another quote) "I will cut a road through all my mountains, and make my highways level." And then He goes on, and He says "Sing out, O Heavens, and rejoice O Earth. Break forth into song you mountains, for the LORD comforts His people, and shows mercy to His afflicted."

But we all say, or it says 'but Zion says', but also we all say, "The LORD has forsaken me, my LORD has forgotten me", sometimes we feel that way during Lent when we are in desolation and darkness. Well how does God respond? "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you." In other words, like a mother I will still show you tenderness, even as you're going through the vice grip of the deepening conversion, I still love you and am still holding you in my hands. And when also when we are deeply comforted, or we can take comfort in the words in the Psalm where we repeat over and over, "The LORD is gracious and merciful.", or in some translations, "The LORD is kind and merciful," and we remember that. When we experience crosses sometimes it is for our own good. It's unfortunately sometimes the only way to deepen in the life of faith is by going through a cross and yet the Lord is kind and merciful in the midst of it.

And then finally in the Gospel we get a little bit of the light of the Resurrection, right? We're even in the beginning in the verse before the Gospel, "I am the resurrection and the life, says the LORD, whoever believes in me will never die", that even during Lent the Lord is reminding us that the Resurrection is coming. He says that, "Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here" -almost at least, for us- "when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear it, will live." So if we feel as if we are going to dying to sin during this time of Lent, we can remember the resurrection is not too far off. It's always here in this Eucharistic Liturgy, the power of the Resurrection of our Lord, but then he's not far from us. So if we're in that darkness, we don't run to the basement and play video games for 22 years, but that we would turn to the Lord in prayer, that we would cry out to him, remembering that the Lord is kind and merciful.

I attempted to keep it as accurate as possible. My only omissions were some “filler” words such as “um” or instances in which Father self corrected mid-sentence (in order to maintain continuity). God bless and keep you.

Editor - Mar 27, 2012

Wow, that was so kind of you to transcribe that. What a work of mercy!

I took the liberty to place some paragraph breaks in your transcription for ease of reading, I hope you don't mind!