During this season of Lent, I call your attention to the power of God’s WORD. To progress in our efforts to turn our hearts more completely to the LORD, I draw your attention to the three primary priorities of the Diocese of Cheyenne: proclaim, celebrate, invite. This article will focus solely upon the first priority to proclaim Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ established the Church, and the Church is the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ is our foundation, and, as members of His body, we are to be vigilant in “keeping our eyes fixed on Christ” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus came into the world to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and instructs the Church to continue this mission.
In a tweet on January 31, Pope Francis sent this message: “A credible witness to truth and to the values of the Gospel is urgently needed.” The season of Lent is a call to conversion, that is, a call to mirror Christ more fully in every aspect of our lives. This conversion process is like an excavation of old ruins. Layers of dirt and debris must be removed in order to get to the original structure that lies beneath. In Baptism, we have become new persons (2 Corinthians 5:17), but the layers of darkness, worldliness, and false philosophies continue to pile up over time, obscuring the presence of Christ and the values of the Gospel within us.
The mission of the Church calls us to be witnesses to Christ. The power or the weakness of this witness is determined by how well we have embodied the values of the Gospel: meekness, poverty of spirit, humility, compassion, mercy, working for justice, purity of heart, peacefulness, and a willingness to be persecuted for the sake of Jesus (Matthew 5:3-12). Once we have embodied the Gospel values in our own priorities and attitudes and taken up our rightful place in the community of believers, we are to proclaim the Gospel to others.
St. Paul, in the First Letter to the Thessalonians, teaches us about the power of the Gospel: “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and [with] much conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Lent is a time to allow the power and the Holy Spirit and the conviction that come from the Gospel to renew us interiorly. When the power of the WORD of Christ dwells richly within us (Colossians 3:16), we are fortified by the Holy Spirit to bear all of life’s afflictions with joy. When we are bolstered by the conviction that flows from the truth of God’s WORD, others will see us as models of a life lived by faith in God.
It is the integrity of a life permeated by God’s Word that makes for a credible witness to others. The words of Blessed Pope Paul VI ring true when he said: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (On Evangelization in the Modern World, #41).
This Lent, we are invited to spend more time with God’s WORD. The truth of the Gospel brings peace and tranquility in the midst of the full days of life’s ups and downs. God’s WORD is a lamp to our feet and a light along the path of life’s journey (Psalm 119:105). God’s WORD became flesh and dwells among us, and we see his glory, the glory “as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). This season of Lent, allow the glory of Christ to shine upon you and the power of his WORD to strengthen your faith in Him.
It is the power of Christ that is always bringing about something new in His Church. It is faith in Him, abiding in His WORD that allows this “something new” to come to life in you, in me, and in the Church today. Our conversion is the renewal of the Body of Christ, the Church. Let us die a little more to self this Lent, that Christ might rise within us fully and powerfully this Easter.0