Called to both witness and rebuilding – Fr. Joe

I don’t know how much I have in common with the President of the United States, Joe Biden. Obviously, we share a first name, which is a start, then he loves participating at Mass, never missing a chance to start his day at his local parish, and I guess I do too. After that our paths diverge. During the week, he was quizzed about Lent, and asked first if had given something up and secondly what was he looking forward too when Lent was over. So, he gave up sweet things as his way of fasting and he was really, really looking forward to a big bowl of ice cream on Easter Sunday. Me too! It’s is sort of reassuring to hear someone in high office with such familiar, ordinary Lenten habits that he is happy to share.
When he was Vice President, one Ash Wednesday he came to the podium for a press conference on education, his forehead marked dramatically with ashes. The Sky commentators were immediately struck by this strange sight and presumed he must have bumped his head and raised a bruise, they began speculating. After it was confirmed the religious meaning of this black mark, one of the commentators said as a Catholic she was embarrassed to have forgotten all about it being the beginning of Lent and realised she should have known why his forehead had been marked. So, when we talk about Easter and the Risen Lord, the empty tomb and the dawning awareness of the disciples that the Lord had risen and gone ahead of them to Galilee we must be aware that some of our family and friends have ‘forgotten’ what this means.
The witness of the first Christians changed them and they spread the good news, building the church, soul by soul, heart by heart, mind by mind. We are called to both witness and rebuilding as Easter joy transforms our lives and hopefully, we radiate the love of the risen Lord to others. Transforming what we did in Lent with prayer, fasting and almsgiving, into becoming an Easter People for the next 50 days is our common and shared mission. One Lent I gave up sugar, and then when Lent was over I stayed off for good. Two years ago, I gave up meat and alcohol and I have stayed off both since. Sometimes Lent changes our habits and creates space for new things in our spiritual lives. There is more to Easter than ice cream! Let’s live Easter together.