Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary- Homilies

"Lent: God's Renewing Breath of Life in Us"
Homily for the
1st Sunday of Lent
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon

13 March 2011
Year A 

When I was a kid, I had terrible asthma. In fact, I still suffer from it now but not as bad as I did back then. I remember going through multiple inhalers, breathing treatments, trips to the emergency room and so on. I remember one incident in particular when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I was playing golf with a friend and doing fine, keeping pace with him, and playing well. About the fourth hole he noticed that I started to slow down and kept waiting for me. By the time we reached the fifth green, I couldn’t breathe. He ran to the clubhouse and the pro came with a cart. We went inside. The pro asked me where I kept my inhaler and he would get it out of my bag. I didn’t have it with me – I didn’t think I needed it. I had to call home but no one was there. Finally, I called my uncle who went to my house, got my inhaler and rushed to the course. The minutes that passed in clubhouse while waiting for my uncle felt like a lifetime. The feeling of not being able to breathe properly is one of the most frightening things imaginable. Panic was setting in – which only makes it worse – right about the time my uncle showed up with my medication. Once he arrived, my mind was set at ease and as I inhaled the medication, finally I was able to breathe again. It certainly makes a person appreciate the simple act of breathing and appreciate being able to breathe properly and with ease. In moments like these, even at a young age, one can’t help but think about how important breathing really is and how our lives depend on it.

Just as oxygen – and in my case medication as well – help us to breathe and continue to live, in the same way, God breathes His life into us. The Book of Genesis reminds us of this fact – not only by breathing life into the human family at the dawn of time but throughout our lives, He continues to breathe His divine life within us. There are certainly many ways in which God breathes His life into us. During the Season of Lent, it is good for us to touch base with those means. First of all, we can truly say that He does so by way of the spiritual discipline in which we are engaged during these forty days – in giving alms: reaching out to others, extending ourselves to help those in need; in fasting: controlling our inordinate desires for food, practicing moderation in eating in order to strengthen our spirit, overcome temptation and become truly free in heart and soul, and finally through prayer: in speaking to Him, communication with God in a dialogue that deepens our love and devotion to Him. Prayer helps us to stay connected to God, reminds us of our dependency on Him and the need for forgiveness.

But yet, there is still a more excellent way in which God breathes His life into us and it is none other than through the Sacred Liturgy – through the Sacraments of the Church, and in particular the Holy Eucharist. Over the course of the next 8-9 months we will be speaking about and implementing some changes that are being made to the words of the Mass. The structure, rites, and gestures will not change – it will be the same Mass – but some of the language will be different. These changes are being made so that we can truly enter into a profound dialogue with God in this act of worship – the true worship of God. Each liturgical celebration – specifically the sacraments – brings about a direct and real encounter with Jesus Christ – Our Lord and God. The sacraments really make happen, by God’s grace, what they say they will. They are a continuation of Christ’s mission of salvation, each one culminating in the Eucharist. The Church feels it necessary, then, to use language that is dignified and profound. Thus, in order to experience fully the life that God breathes into us through the mystery of the Eucharist, we must first understand the nature of the Eucharist.

As a sacrament, the Eucharist has a double aspect. It is a remembering of an event and the making present of that same event, though veiled in the form of bread and wine. The Eucharist therefore, is a sacrifice, a presence, and a food. That which is most familiar to us is the Eucharist as food – food for the soul, the food that nourishes us spiritually. Thus, the Eucharist brings about our union with Christ, separates us from sin, unites us to the holiness of God Himself – giving us strength of soul in order to continue our spiritual journey through life until He calls us home to heaven. Thus, when we receive Him, we receive the power of the Resurrection – forgiveness of our venial sins, union with Christ in the here and now, and are given a foretaste of the heavenly union with Christ for which we long. Our Christian lives are fueled by this food – in the celebration and reception of the Holy Eucharist, Jesus not only breathes His life into us but we become Him. As St. Augustine once commented – we consume Him so that we may be consumed by Him.

During this Season of Lent, if we truly wish to be renewed by God’s grace, to have Him breathe His life into us in a new and profound way – then may we approach this sacred act of worship in an attitude of receptivity, being more attentive to the Word of God, in a true spirit of prayer and gratitude, with ears able to hear Him speak to us, minds open to better understand His teaching, and hearts open to His grace.


Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Springfield, MA


Return to multimedia home...

siervas_logo_color.jpg (14049 bytes)
Return to homepage:
This page is a work of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary