Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
1st Sunday of Lent | February 21/22, 2015
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the readings here. This homily is based on the first reading.
I still remember the first time our basement flooded.
My parents were away for the weekend, one of the few times in which they actually took a vacation without the kids.
And my brothers and I were determined to make sure that nothing went wrong in their absence.
So imagine my shock when I went to do the laundry and immediately found my feet were soaking wet. It seems that the 24 hours of rain had been too much for our sump pump to handle. Water was beginning to bubble up from the floor threatening twenty years of accumulated stuff.
With the water rising, we quickly had to make a decision. What should we save?
Within moments, it was decided.
Save the sentimental . . . The pictures, the kindergarten diplomas, the toy chest that my parents had made for us when we were kids.
Yes, it meant watching waters swirl over piles of clothes and neatly labeled boxes of wrapping paper.
But in the end of the day, we chose based on what we had been taught to value . . . memories and the people you make them with.
I thought a lot about that flood in reading the 1st reading for today.
For I believe that floods force us to decide what we value.
After the great flood, we hear God proclaim his own values to the world.
The value of relationships
The value of each human person
The value of creation, its beauty and its goodness
Values that were forever enshrined in a covenant marked by a rainbow that continues to shine down on each of us.
But I also believe that floods engender within us a sense of urgency.
We are not given the luxury of time to decide what is important.
We cannot remain complacent as the waters rise higher and higher.
We must make a choice. We must choose what is important to us. And then we must act.
Maybe that is why the image of a flood is such an interesting one to mark the beginning of the season of Lent.
For I believe that Lent offers the same challenge to each of us.
The challenge to first determine what we truly value. What is of utmost importance in our lives?
Is it our faith, our Church, our God?
Is it our family, our friends, our “neighbor”?
Is it our character?
Is it our work?
Is it our possessions?
Is it our status, our position of authority?
All of these things have a place in our lives, but, when the waters are rising, what do we cling to?
And in determining what we value, we then need to choose to let go of some of the other things that have crept into our lives, consuming our time, our attention, and our energy.
We need to let go of the trunks of hurts that we have filled with years of accumulated slights, wounds, and bitterness that clutter our hearts and cloud our souls.
We need to let go of our compulsive need for perfection that has us choosing a clean house over playing house with our grandchildren, that has us choosing another late night in the office over a date night with our spouse.
We need to let go of the schedules and deadlines that come to determine our values for us. That somehow always prioritize the wrong things, shortchanging our prayer life, our time with friends and family, our moments in which we renew, recharge and relax.
Lent has begun again, my friends.
And it comes with the same sense of urgency as the rising waters of an impending flood.
Will we accept the challenge that Lent offers us this day?
To determine our values and then act upon them to create our lives anew.
To become the people that God has formed us to be.
To pray, to fast, and to give in a manner that reflects what is truly important to us.
May we all have the courage to become new creations this Lenten season so that God’s beauty may shine through us for generations to come.
May God be Praised