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Faithful to the end

Last Wednesday, we began our annual journey through Lent, with the traditional practice of receiving the ashes on our foreheads and wearing them for the day.

This simple rite is a public proclaimation of our relationship with God. Although many people may comment to you that you have dirt on your face, it is still an
opportunity for us to help them to understand why we wear the ashes in public.

They are a sign that we are sinners and we have begun our 40-day fast to help us recognise our sinfulness and gain help in over-
coming the things in our lives that cause us to be separated from our God.

Father Ron Rolheiser has written of a conversation he once had in relation to the funeral of the late civil rights leader, Martin Luther King.

A reporter asked an old man, “What did this man mean to you? Why was he special to you?” The old man, through tears, answered simply, “He was a great man because he was faithful. He believed in us when we had stopped believing in ourselves, he stayed with us even when we weren’t worth staying with!”

These words had a deep impact on me, because they would probably be the words that I hope I would have said if asked the same question standing near the cross
of Jesus.

Father Rolheiser related these words to faith and, from my knowledge of Martin Luther King, he was a man of deep faith.

He undertook to change attitudes in a world which were extremely difficult to change and took a great deal of faith and courage to persevere. Then he paid the ultimate price.

Father Rolheiser goes on to say, “To be full of faith means precisely to be faithful. That is more than a play on words.”

Faith is that secure feeling that God exists. As people who have been baptised, we have been imprinted with the image of God deep within our being and, even though there may be times that we have separated ourselves from God, God can never let us go.

God has made a covenant, an everlasting covenant, that we will be his people and will be our God.

In the gospel reading of today’s Mass, we are reminded of Jesus being led into the desert by the Spirit where he spent 40 days fasting, being tempted and living among the wild beasts with the angels looking after him. 

On his return, he commenced his public ministry with the words, “The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the good news.”

These are the words that should be implanted in our hearts as we begin our time of fasting, almsgiving and prayer. These are the words that will give us the power to overcome temptation and provide us with the gift of faith that God is with us, and is waiting for us to return and experience his most gracious love.

“We thank you God our Father. He remembers his covenant with us and with every living creature. We now call it to mind as we are to celebrate the memorial of the death and resurrection of his Son, the New Adam.”

            ● Deacon Les Baker