It was packed. Yes, the church was packed this afternoon at lunch time and one could hardly find a place to be comfortably seated. Many had to remain standing for a little over an hour. It was good, though, for we are in the season of Lent and most of us are better disposed to be charitable. On ordinary days, people can be less kind. But today was different….if only everyday is like this day!………A member of the Hospitality team came and warmly ushered more people into the crowded church. Where normally a short pew at the side of the church would occupy only three persons, we had five today. I smiled at the very apologetic lady next to me and assured her that it was all right. She felt like an intruder as she entered the pew and sat next to me. As for me, I did feel a sense of joy. Ah, if only we have such kindness on a daily basis!
I enjoyed the homily that was delivered with a punch as only Fr Vincent could do it, in his own special way. He is a priest who calls a spade a spade and no way will he sugar coat his message so that all could swallow it. Thank you, Fr Vincent! Jesus was no respecter of persons too. Before kings or emperors, before rich or poor, our Lord spoke with authority. He spoke the truth.
It was good to have the priest put us all in the right spirit for Lent. He noted that some of us appeared as if we had come for a funeral, and many were even afraid of smiling. Can we not smile in Lent? Thank God we can! Fr Vincent said that our Lord died two thousand years ago. He does not die every year on Good Friday. So we have all come to rejoice, and we are not at a wake. Praise God!
It would be wonderful if everyone of us can begin Lent in the right spirit and grow spiritually. May the Lord give us the grace to cooperate with him as he prepares our hearts for the forty-day journey. As Fr Vincent has so clearly put it, we need to concern ourselves with three key areas as indicated by the readings for Ash Wed. We are to seek a change of heart, to repent and be reconciled with God and with all peoples, and we are to be truthful before God who knows everything about us.
Yes, today is the day of salvation. Now is the favourable time.
I was happy to have the cross signed on my forehead and to go off from the church with it. When I met a fellow Catholic a while later, she smiled and said, ‘Ah, you have gone to mass already!’ Yes, I have and I have prayed for the grace to know what it is that the Lord is inviting me to do throughout these forty days. I tried to think of that first season of Lent some nineteen years ago but could not really remember anything much. What I do know is that when we celebrated Easter Vigil I received the Sacrament of Baptism. That night I could not sleep………and in the morning the angels were still singing ‘Be exalted O God above the heavens…let thy glory be over all the earth!’