Father David Sabel's Pastoral Perspective

What do you mean Father? Lent is about 40 days to prepare yourself for our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. What does slavery have to do with it? Slavery isn’t in our country today! What are you talking about? We have been free in this country since 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. I don’t get it.
All reasonable questions and observations but look at it closer. First, when I am talking about slavery, I am not talking about the enslavement of people that happened in the early history of our country. Even though the enslavement of people may be happening in other parts of the world or even against our will in a corrupt and illegal way in our country, I do not want to say that slavery is extinct in our country.
No, I am talking about a different type of slavery. The slavery of our own personal passions that keep us from being free to be the humble disciples that we are called to be for the Savior of the world who broke the chains of our sins and free us for the opportunity to gain eternal happiness in heaven.
Why did God send His only Son to our world?
Answer, “For God so loved the world that he gave* his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn* the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John.3:16-17)
How did Jesus change the world? By teaching human beings to quit being slaves to self and start being free to love God and love thy neighbor. This means making more decisions, hopefully guided by the Holy Spirit, to free us from our selfish passions and learn to be as passionate as Our Lord, the saints, a holy teacher, someone who will guides us to live a virtuous life rather than life of selfish passions that lead to sin or vice!
Let’s look at Our Lord’s Exodus. He leaves the joyful, loving relationship with the Trinitarian love of heaven and comes to the world and the creatures He created. He spends 30 years with the same earthly trinitarian love of Joseph and Mary, spends 40 days in the desert and for three years, taught 12 guys how to move from being slaves to their own personal passions and free them to change the world.
Remember how Jesus called them, “As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Matt.4:18-20)
These guys were free! They were free to be disciples and evangelized once they were instilled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. I am sure they still liked to fish for food to humanly sustain themselves, but their mission was to do the ministry of Our Lord.
We are called to do the same ministry. We also take care of our human needs, but our main mission is the same as Christ’s mission, to save souls.
How do we free ourselves to get on with Our Lord’s mission?
First off, I am going to simply say that we must look at what Jesus did. What Jesus did was formulate a simple plan of prayer, asceticism and fraternity!
Think about it! He was constantly in prayer with His Father, then He went into the desert for 40 days of prayer and fasting (types of asceticism), then He invited a fraternity of 12 men and taught them how to pray, how to fast and then had them invite others to join Our Lord’s freedom after His ascension into heaven.
Can we do that today? It is already going on in a program called Exodus 90 for men, Fiat 90 for women. You can look them up on the internet.
We have parishioners in some of the parishes who are taking the challenge because they do not want to be a slave to some of their passions and want to be freer to do more work for the Lord with their families or their acquaintances. It is based on the Book of Exodus, which we know is the escape of the Israelites from the slavery of the Egyptians to the freedom of the promised land.
Folks, change takes suffering. Ask Our Lord who suffered for us.
Lent is a time for change, permanent change. Not, “OK I am going to give this up for 40 days then go back to the same old passions.” That is not what Jesus, the blessed Mother and Joseph, the disciples, the saints and the martyrs did. They permanently changed, like Saul to Paul. From persecutor of the Christians to an apostle for Jesus.
How did they change? By the Grace of God which came from prayer, asceticism and fraternity.
So, what is your Exodus going to look like during this Lent? Are you going to listen to some guy who says, “Come follow me and I will make you Fishers of men”, jump out of that boat and quickly jump into another boat that is guided by a man that exited His divine life?
Are you going to sail in a boat, guided by this God/man that will show you the Way, the Truth and the Life that comes from His guidance of prayer, asceticism and fraternity? Is this going to be the Lent that begins the process of freeing yourself from worldly passions and start becoming that slave for Jesus Christ that St. Paul states, “My life is Christ” which leads to true freedom of eternal salvation?
Or are you going to just give up candy during Lent?
Want to be free to save souls? Let the Grace of God strengthen you. Get a fraternity of people who want to also become freer! Remember, freedom has a price, but the reward is heavenly!
“Exodus stage right” and have your Lent be the best and most permanent change you have ever let Jesus Christ and His fraternity help you be His disciple!