Today marks the beginning of a new message series for the season of Lent that we are calling, Bare Necessities: Getting Back to Basics. The premise of the series is that God will do everything for us when we have faith enough to return to the bare necessities in life.
The prevailing approach in our affluent society is to chase after the material pleasures, too often discovering only later that they do not really satisfy. By the end of the series, we hope to have inspired you to trim whatever excesses in life you experience by recognizing that God will do everything for you when you trust enough in him to provide. Indeed, the readings at the Sunday Masses during the Lenten season open our eyes to the most basic truth of our faith that faith in the generous providence of God to provide for us is the central and only path to happiness and fulfillment.
During the six weeks of Lent, for example, we hear stories in the Old Testament of how God rescued his people trapped in slavery, leading them out of that misery through the Red Sea, across the desert, and into a promised land flowing with milk and honey. Because God provides.
The readings from Saint Paul also highlight God’s care for the Israelite people and exhort us to regard everything in this world as mere “rubbish” compared to the gift that we have from our faith in Jesus Christ who emptied himself to save us. Because God provides.
The psalms in Lent reassure us that the angels in heaven will guard us, God will deliver us, and the Lord will answer those who call upon him (Psalm 91). We are invited to “taste and see the goodness of the Lord,” (Psalm 34), reminded that “the Lord has done great things for us,” and promised that God will “restore our fortunes.” Indeed, we may “go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown,” but we will “come back rejoicing” (Psalm 126). Because God provides.
The gospel readings tell of God’s great patience with us as the gardener carefully cultivates a fig tree, his forgiveness as a father forgives his prodigal son, his compassion with our sins as Jesus treated the woman caught in adultery, his unconditional approval of us as brothers and sisters of Jesus whom he called his “beloved Son,” and his unfailing care for us just as the Spirit strengthened Jesus himself in the desert. Because God provides.
Last Wednesday, ashes were imposed on your forehead with the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” When we turn back to God by trusting in him, getting back to basics, and stripping ourselves of life’s excesses, we are not going on a starvation diet and unreasonably denying ourselves of pleasure. Rather, we are discovering the simpler path to peace by enjoying the bare necessities in life.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
Father Roger Gustafson