HOMILY – 3rd Sunday of Lent – National Day of Prayer
Immaculate Conception Parish, Scranton

When I had originally planned to celebrate Mass in your parish, I had no idea that we’d be in the midst of such a challenging health crisis – a crisis that is changing by the moment and may very well find us changing for a time our practice of worship even more radically than we have to date.

I know that for so many of you – and me – this crisis is consuming and may very well challenge our ability to focus on the message of the scriptures and the call of Jesus to us on this 3rd Sunday of Lent.

For just a moment, I would encourage us to focus on the second reading that was proclaimed this morning – the reading that typically is often over looked or at least given less of a focus than the gospel stories of Jesus.

Listen to the words of Saint Paul in his letter to the Church of Rome.  “Brothers and sisters:  Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.  …  And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

“Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts.”

In the midst of the suffering, the pain, the uncertainty, the fear of this moment – that may not pass soon enough – we need to hold fast to that hope more than ever.  …  We need to believe with all our hearts that God will carry us through this crisis – not without possible pain or loss – but surely enough!

Don’t forget for a moment the season of grace in which we find ourselves:  Lent.  …  Lent places before us the cross of Jesus – fraught with fear and anxiety as Jesus prayed that it would pass him by – compounded by emotional loss and physical pain – all the things that we are facing in so many and different ways.

Yet, brothers and sisters, Lent and the cross ALWAYS give way to Easter and life and peace.

That’s what we believe.  …  That’s what we celebrate in this Eucharist.  …  And therein is our hope – CHRIST HAS DIED, CHRIST IS RISEN, CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN – Christ our hope – and as St. Paul reminds us – a hope that does not disappoint!

God bless you and keep you!