St. Luke’s Gospel, from which we will be reading on every Sunday but one during Lent –

is known as the Gospel of Mercy. . .

Mercy, Pope Francis says is essential in living the Christian life – because it not only allows us to understand ourselves and God better – but it also prompts us to recognize and help those in need.

St. Luke, in his Gospel of Mercy, gives us many stories that are found only in his Gospel to illustrate his radical ideas on mercy and compassion.

One of those stories we will read on 4th Sunday of Lent – and it gives us a focus and theme for the Lenten season we will all share together over the next 40 days.

The story – is known by many names:  the loving Father, the pouty brother, the absent mother — but commonly known as the Prodigal Son.

One line in particular gives us our focus and theme – as the younger son in the story, having taken his share of the estate and squandered it on a wild life – longs to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine feed – comes to his senses

And thinks, “How many of my father’s hired

workers have more than enough food to eat” and he heads home to find the loving, and forgiving embrace of his father to welcome him.

Lent is a time given to us every year to “come to our senses” and to get up and go to our heavenly father.

Lent is a time given to us every year to “come to our senses” – to re-prioritize our lives, to reorganize and re-focus on what is important – the values of the kingdom of God —- rather than focusing our time, energy and attention on what is NOT important:  the values of the world.

Lent is a time given to us every year to “come to our senses” returning to our heavenly Father with all our minds, hearts and souls.  Turning from fear – to love – by our prayer, fasting and almsgiving — to run into the loving and forgiving embrace of our father – who is diligently searching the highways and the byways – patiently waiting for us to return.

Loving and merciful God – help us to “come to our senses” during these 40 days – so that when Easter comes, we may be closer to being the people you call us to be.

Come to your Senses Come to your Senses       and return to the Lord. and return to the Lord.

Come to your Senses Come to your Senses       and return to the Lord. and return to the Lord.

Come to your Senses Come to your Senses       and return to the Lord. and return to the Lord.

Come to your Senses Come to your Senses       and return to the Lord. and return to the Lord.

Come to your Senses Come to your Senses       and return to the Lord. and return to the Lord.

Blessing and Distribution of Ashes

Dear brothers and sisters, let us humbly ask God to bless with the abundance of grace these ashes, which we will place on our foreheads as a sign of repentance & renewal.

Merciful God, who are always diligently searching the highways and byways – patiently waiting for us — help us to use this time of Lent to “come to our senses” and return to you with all our minds, hearts, and souls.  

Open our eyes to see that violence, resentment, and revenge have no place in our Christian lives.

Renew in us a humble and contrite spirit – so that when Easter comes – we may be more and more like your son – compassionate, merciful, and forgivingl

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  AMEN!