The Sunday Propers: Waiting for God

After focusing on the role of Christians preparing for Lent last Sunday, the liturgy for Sexagesima Sunday shifts the emphasis towards the action of God.  While Lent is often viewed in terms of what we do, that is only half the story.  If the Lenten life of the Church is mainly based on what we have given up or we have done, then we are wasting the Lenten season.

The other half of the story is told by the propers, and it was one of divine action.  Several of the prayers focus on how God helps the faithful.  The Tract speaks of a God who heals the breaches of this world.  If we are familiar with anything today, it should be breaches in the world.  Both our Church and Society are defined in how divided they are.  Polarization is rampant and threatens every aspect of the way we live.  God can heal this, and he wants to heal it, for “there is neither Gentile nor Jew.”

He heals these breaches and divisions by giving us the word, as explained in Christ’s parable of the sower in today’s Gospel reading.  For most of the people who receive the word of God, it doesn’t stay with them.  For one reason or another, they go back to their life they had before hearing the word.  They might have been inspired by it, they might have found it interesting, but they were never changed by it.  Some view the call of God pointless, while others are simply focused on the initial euphoria the Gospel brings.  Once the high passes, the crash begins, and they wither away.  Others are sincere about their belief, and they even realize Christianity is not a pleasure cruise.  Their problem is they spend too much time on the trivial cares of the world.  When we are honest with ourselves, there are a lot of Catholics who are like this, not just the world.  If we are really honest with ourselves, we’ve joined these ranks from time to time.

The only way for the seed to really take hold and grow into something beautiful is to have a good heart, or as the Gospel calls it, a “perfect” heart.  Only if you have this heart will the Gospel transform your life.  If you have this heart, it is easier to keep the gift God gives you.  How does one have this heart?

The Introit tells us that the first step to having this heart is to let God deliver us.  St. Paul tells us that the mark of a Christian is to endure suffering from others, and to do so gladly.  The Offertory tells us of a heart that lets God perfect our paths with His guidance.  What is the link between these?

The link is in our attitude.  It is an attitude that trusts God to act in this world, and to act in a way that is far superior to our own.  That’s the point of Lent, and the Church is using the Sundays before Lent to bring us into that mindset.  We aren’t fasting to punish ourselves, and we aren’t even technically fasting to become more holy.  (Though growth in holiness is normally something we should aspire to.)  We give up during Lent as part of adopting the attitude of wanting God to work within us and through us.  The things we give up are symbols of our own brilliant ideas that often go astray, and seek instead the ideas and work of God.

This disposition is explained by that parable of the seed and the sower in the Gospel.  The sower spreads the seed over a variety of instances, and only in certain instances does anything grow out of it.  Think of that seed as our baptism, where the grace of God is poured out on the faithful.  One by one people fall away, but only those who have a solid foundation grow when God feeds them with more grace.  The disposition of allowing God to work within us is the prerequisite for any other laudable thing (prayer, a solid education, etc) we can do.  As the season of Lent approaches, maybe this is what we should focus on for Lent.  Whether we give up chocolates, add another 10 minutes of prayer, or engage in a strict fasting regimen, let’s remember that we should allow God to work through us more than anything.

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Kevin Tierney is the Associate Editor of the Learn and Live the Faith Section at Catholic Lane. He and his family live in Brighton, MI. Connect with him via FB  or on twitter @CatholicSmark.

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