In 1813 Eugene de Mazenod gave what is now known as his Lenten Homily in the Church of the Madeleine in Aix. Fernand Jetté, OMI wrote: “The Gospel must be taught to all, and in a way in which it can be understood. The poor, that precious portion of the Christian family, cannot be left in their ignorance. So important did our divine Saviour consider them that he took it upon himself to instruct them; and he gave as proof that his mission was divine, the fact that the poor were being instructed: Pauperes evangelizantur. […] It is a matter of learning what the Lord asks of you in order to give you eternal happiness. […] Come now and learn from us what you are in the eyes of faith. You, the poor of Jesus Christ […] my brethren, my dear brethren, my dear respectable brethren, listen to me. You are the children of God, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, the co-heirs of his eternal Kingdom […] There is within you an immortal soul […] a soul redeemed at the cost of the blood of Jesus Christ […] O Christians, recognize your dignity […]” ” (from Dictionary of Oblate Values – Jesus Christ)
I hear this in my mind just as I first heard it spoken by Frank Santucci, OMI a few years ago. So powerful was it, it grabbed my heart and I felt my entire being respond. “Come now and learn from us what you are in the eyes of faith…” This is exactly what has happened to me. With Eugene I have come to find and learn who I am in the eyes of God and in the eyes of myself – with everyone else and the Oblates in between.
I who am nothing am everything before my God. This is my dignity – it comes not from myself, though it is within me. It comes from God, from the love of God when He calls me his Beloved.
I have been led here this morning by the Spirit – of that I am convinced. A tender reminder that in the middle of the ordinary that is today, I am beloved, I am a daughter of God – esteemed and respected. This is the mana which will feed me today as I walk and stumble on a path that at times can be barely discernible by the naked eye, shrouded in fog and with the unknown all around. Yes it is Lent, and I am oddly grateful for that.