March 10: Always Looking for Miracles (Lent 1 C)

“What does Scripture Say? –The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart – that is, the word of faith that we preach.” Romans 10:8-13.

Recall my comments on Ash Wednesday, and how I spoke about those precious Stradivari violins in the town of Cremona and how our spiritual life is like an instrument that needs care and occasionally may require tuning or repair.

Lent is an occasion for a spiritual tuning and repair of the heart. Lent may be that initial stage, or the first step – in a life-long spiritual effort.

Here’s another way to grasp the idea of Lent, namely, as a worshipful journey of wonder and miracles.

A friend of mine, Nick, who is a former student at Saint Mary’s, telephoned me the other day to ask whether I knew someone who had recently completed the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrim way of Saint James in Northwest Spain.

Okay, three friends of mine completed the journey, last year alone. Nick wants to go with his cousin Dave and take a prescribed eleven-day bike trip from Portugal. At its conclusion, they will receive a formal certificate stamped with the iconic scallop shell, the official sign of having completed this spiritual journey.

Excited about the prospects of this next phase in his life, yesterday Nick texted me: “Thank you, Mike. These are days of miracles and wonder.” I texted back: “Always looking for miracles!”

Nick had connected with my friend Frank who walked the Camino last year, and so my mission was accomplished. You may want to say, Father Mike, maybe you should be a travel agent?

Well, here’s the point. Genuine worship means movement, not just sitting around churches in comfortable pews, but gathering in friendship and building a community of faith. I’ll call it “worship in action” and song!

When you read the gospel, Jesus is in the desert, and even with the temptations of a devil, Jesus is single-minded about his forty-day trek to Jerusalem and building his community of faith.

According to Jesuit Father Anthony Lusvardi, “To worship means to move – to ascend the holy mountain, to tread the pilgrim path, to stand, to sit, to kneel.” Sounds like “spiritual exercises” to me!

From his graduate studies in Rome, Father Tony concludes, “If all the church’s worship should be thought of as a journey, Lent involves receiving platinum frequent flyer status.” (America, 3/6/19)

So this Lenten journey, what are you and I doing to merit “platinum flyer status?” Accurate, Lent makes its demands! It is a transformative experience and not easy to come by.

Mostly we move toward holy week and the real actions of the Triduum when we celebrate the spiritual journey of those who place their faith in Christ at Baptism and the Sacraments of Initiation.

Lent is the “kairos” moment! In Greek, this means an opportune time, the supreme moment, or that “winning season.”

“Kairos” contrasts with another concept of time or “Chronos,” just counting days or time, like the changing to the hours of Day Light Saving Time.

Lent, which derives from the word of a “lengthening of days” and in added sunlight, we have the promise of spring with its refreshment and growth, when we take that trek by foot or by bike to our next spiritual destination, a place of wonder and miracles.

For this Lent, let’s grow not just in size or height, but thrive as persons, in generosity, mercy, and grace.

Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.

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