Dame Julian of Norwich was a medieval mystic who lived in the 14th century. She believed that our soul was so profoundly rooted in God and treasured by him that we cannot know it without knowing God first. “For he loved us before he made us, and after we had been created, we loved him.” She speaks of our relationship with Jesus as Jesus constantly living in us.
I see this same kind of closeness to God as well as to one another in the Ash Wednesday readings. The prophet Joel writes “call an assembly, gather the people, notify the congregation, assemble the elders, and gather the children”; and Paul telling us “We are ambassadors for Christ”, saying that “we are fellow workers”. Neither one of them wants us to sit around and do nothing. We are to form community. We are to act and work together for the benefit of all.
The reading for the following day has Moses calling upon us to “choose life”, by loving the Lord our God and holding fast to him. On the following day the prophet Isaiah shares with us some of what God wants: freeing the oppressed, sharing our bread with the hungry, sheltering the homeless and the oppressed, clothing the naked and not turning our back on our own. Once again we are called upon to act and work together for the benefit of all.
In just three days of readings, we have been told that we are to choose life, to be ambassadors for Christ, to care for another – especially the poorest and neediest. We are to act and work together for the benefit of all.
Doing all this could get us exhausted – but it shouldn’t! Think about the words of Dame Julian about God living in us! Think about the words of St. Paul to the Philippians about being able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
We make our resolutions for the Lenten season. But the messages of the readings I have mentioned above call upon us to go beyond the end of the Lenten season – with Jesus living within us – to act and work together all the days of our lives for the benefit of all.