The season of Lent is upon us once again. It is a season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. A season when God once again addresses a special appeal to all His children, “Return to me”, “Be Reconciled”. These sobering words are taken from the Prophet Joel and from Saint Paul in today’s first and second readings. In those words, God addresses a call to repentance to all peoples. It is a time to reach out to God in humility, in sack cloth and ashes. The expression ‘now’ or ‘even now’ as we see in the Prophet Joel and in the letter of Saint Paul, speak to the urgency of the invitation. It is not too late, yet it cannot be further delayed. It is for all, no one is exempt. Saint Paul calls it an appeal, indeed a relentless one from a God who is rich in compassion, slow to anger abounding in love. At the very core of these appeals is a reminder to not allow the grace of God given to us to be in vain. In other words, we are called to bear fruit, for uselessness attracts disaster. As we begin another forty-day journey, it is important to not see it as an annual routine or ritual or as business as usual. It is a time for deep and personal soul searching, to make peace with God by first making peace with one another. This year we can engage in a targeted fasting, such as fasting from pride, from anger, from greed and from malice. We can also fast from hurtful words, from bitterness and hate, from selfishness and from mean spirited ness. These are worth so much more than the abstinence from material food. As Jesus would remind us in the gospel: “It is not what goes into a man that defiles him, it is indeed what comes out of him” (Matt. 15:11). May we all take advantage of this propitious moment as one of spiritual renewal and rejuvenation, one in which to ensure to mend our broken relationships with God and with one another, Amen.