“You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him.”
Pope Benedict XVI uses this phrase from St. Paul's second letter to the Corinthians to give us a theme for reflection during this season of Lent. Our baptism is the door which allows us entry into the Church and gives us access to the wonders of God through the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. In Baptism we become members of Christ's body, and members of the Church and along with the benefits of this membership we also assume the responsibilities of helping to build the kingdom of God here on earth and to build up the Church of Christ through our witness to the Gospel. Through Baptism we are created anew and share in the life of God. Through this life we also become sharers in the death and resurrection of the Lord, which is expressed in a special way in our Lenten journey together.
As believers, we enter this holy season of prayer and penance and we reflect in particular on our relationship with God and with one another. The upheaval in our world, the turmoil in countries of the Middle East and even the unrest in our own nation, prompts us to turn to the Lord in our prayer, especially for a change in the hearts of world leaders, and for peace and justice to be restored in the world.
In our prayer we seek a closer union with Christ, and we beseech Him to hear us. Pope Benedict XVI notes: "In order to undertake more seriously our journey towards Easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord - the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year - what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent, leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of our Christian initiation, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken as we follow Christ in a fuller giving of ourselves to him."
The Word of God nourishes us at each Mass and in our daily prayer and readings. It is a means by which we come to know Christ more intimately and to know of his interaction with others and his example of mercy and forgiveness so generously given. We all seek that mercy and forgiveness during the season of Lent. In our prayer, in our fasting and in our almsgiving or outreach to the poor, may we recognize that through our Baptism we carry Christ to the world. Our actions speak of Christ to others. Our witness helps the message of the Gospel, the message of hope to encourage others.
May this season of grace be a time for inner reflection, a deeper appreciation of the gifts and goodness we share, a time for rebuilding broken relationships through mercy and forgiveness and may "this Lent renew our acceptance of the grace that God has bestowed upon us from our Baptism so that it may illuminate and guide all our actions" (Pope Benedict XVI).
Sincerely in Christ,
+ Fred Colli
Bishop of Thunder Bay