Journey through Lent 2018 at St. Anthony's
Tuesday - Third Week of Lent
March 6, 2018

The scripture readings today speak to me of the hopeful and undying faith that followers of God have demonstrated in the weave of our biblical history….that somewhere in our ancestors’ souls…they knew of the deep and mystical hope that was to come when the stone would be found…rolled away…that the entire Bible percolates upon one hope…the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. And without the resurrection, our human Lenten journey is an unfinished tapestry. The faithful prayer of Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego-“Azariah" in the heat of the fiery furnace call out to God…in the midst of our daily grind…the struggles of driving to work in rush hour traffic wondering if we left the coffee pot on…wondering if we can pay this month’s rent…is this the job I want until retirement…why am I here….what does God want from me…in the midst of an unsettling divorce…the battle of child custody...getting our children ready for school…dealing with a crying baby all night suffering from colic….sitting beside the bedside of our father or mother as they lay dying feeling helpless…the guilt of deciding to place an aging parent into an assisted living facility instead of bringing them into our home…STANDING…sitting…sometimes only enough energy to curl up into a ball on the cold kitchen floor…but RIGHT IN THE MIDST OF THE FIERY FURNACE OF LIFE and being able to muster enough of a whisper…a cry…a whimper…something…for our loving, our powerful, our mighty and merciful Redeemer…our Abba Father…our Daddy…our God to hear…knowing that He will listen to our plea…and knowing that He WILL answer us. 
All Azariah had to offer as a gift was his contrite spirit and humble heart…but these 3 men knew that that was enough. They knew, as you and I know, that all God wants from us is…just that…us. He wants us to give back to him as an offering…our love, our desire, our faithfulness, our will, our spirit, our hope in Him…in his divine and unfailing love…in His infinite wisdom! Isn't this all Jesus had to offer His Father on the cross that sultry day on Calvary?? " When Jesus had tasted it, he said, "It is finished!" Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.” Our Lenten journey will be complete when Jesus, too calls us home…to our eternal home. These little deaths we experience each day…these offerings in our individual lives are a part of the sacrificial joy we will see completed in Heaven...where it will all make sense and come to fruition. The great comfort in all of this…is that we are not alone. Not only is our God ever-present within us…we have our fellow members of the mystical body of Christ. 
And this is where the Psalmist, as did Azariah-  reflects this deep hope in God’s mercy…he pleads with God, “Remember your mercies, O Lord…In your kindness remember me because of your goodness, O Lord.”   

And to complete the tapestry…Peter asks the question of all questions: “Lord if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” To which Jesus quickly responds, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”  And Jesus goes on to tell of the parable of the merciful king and the lost “wicked servant.” We must pray for one another so that instead of pointing fingers of judgment; we offer open hands of mercy, love and compassion. Just as the Lenten journey of our daily lives goes beyond the seven weeks of the Liturgical Calendar and is fulfilled each time by Christ’s death and resurrection…we cannot expect God’s mercy without the fulfillment of our mercy towards one another…it’s a circle…never-ending…always one.

The first 2 commandments…"thou  shalt love  the Lord thy God  with all thy heart, and with all thy  soul , and with all thy mind. This is the first and  great commandment . And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, and the first is like the second… “Mk 12:30-31   This is true equality.

Thank you, John for asking St. Anthony Parishoners to partake in this Lenten journey. Praise God! 

Dr. Tonia Rogers
St. Anthony Parishioner (and Parish Council member, Lector, Eucharistic minister)