"My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live."
— Mark 5:23
Happy Fat Tuesday! (or, for you French-speakers, Mardi Gras)
If we were at our sister university in New Orleans, Loyola University of New Orleans, we would have been celebrating Mardi Gras since the Epiphany is early January. We would have now be eating rich food and going to parade after parade, yelling from the curbs, Throw me something, mister! In response, we would have seen the riders on the floats flinging beads, plastic doubloons and, if we were really lucky, a coconut to the crowds. We would have felt a connection with the people in the parade and the spectators. Today would mark the last chance for us to add to our hoard of free stuff.
Tomorrow we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Many of us, Catholic or not, will have ashes placed on our foreheads, symbolizing our penance and contrition, our sacrifices. Most of the time we may think that Mardi Gras and Lent are two very different celebrations — one filled with the good things of life, the other marking our sacrifice of those good things. But in a very important way Mardi Gras and Lent are about the same thing.
In the Gospel for today, an official asks Jesus to lay His hands on his deathly ill daughter so she will be healed. Eventually, Jesus travels to the deathbed of the little girl and raises her to life. The petition of the worried father should be ours, today and tomorrow, maybe even throughout Lent.
The father of the ill child knew, as we should know, that if we turn to God and ask Him just to touch our lives we will be healed. If only we can realize that there are some things in our lives that we cannot control ourselves, we can then turn them over to God and know he has the ability to heal us. We have to be like that father and the revelers at today's parades; all we have to do is ask.
Tomorrow, as we receive and wear the ashes, let us remember that Lent cannot be reduced to giving things up: it is not about suffering and doing without, it is more about connecting with Jesus more deeply, more completely in our life. Lent is a time when the Church invites us to deepen our relationship with God, to ask God to be a real part of our lives. Lent is a brief portion of our year, we can make a sincere and real to know our God and ourselves better, more completely, more intentionally.
Today, we may be enjoying what we consider to be the goodness of the world; tomorrow, let us begin to discover the boundless riches the Lord wants for each of us, the real goodness of which we can all be a part.
In this Year of Faith, let us not strive just for the plastic beads and trinkets thrown from passing floats, but for the lasting treasures God offers us all year long, all our lives, the real treasures God wants to give us. Let us remember that when we ask God for what we need, He will give us treasures beyond our dreams.
Remember: All you have to do is to ask God for what you really need
or, yell throw me something, mister...
Either way, your request will be well-answered.
HAPPY MARDI GRAS!
HAVE A BLESSED LENT!
As a worshipping and faith community at Saint Louis University, we join with Catholics and men and women of faith in other traditions, thanking God for Pope Benedict XVI.
We are grateful God has given him his age and life, and we raise our prayers for his health in his retirement.
Deo Gratias for your ministry and dedication to men and women of all faiths ...
Ad multos annos, Holy Father.
D. Highberger, S.J.
P. Stark, S.J.