Perhaps this was the most fruitful Lent of your life. Praise God.
Perhaps, however, you look back on Great Lent with sadness. You fell short of your Lenten commitment. Your Paschal rejoicing, is tinged with a sense of loss and disappointment. Okay. The truth is the truth. You fell short. “Coulda, woulda shoulda,” as my dad use to say. “Now what are you going to do about it?!,” he would add.
Praise God just as much as the person whose Lent was the best ever!!
The forty days between Pascha and Ascension is, in so many words, the declaration, “It is never too late. Repent and believe the gospel.”
“It is too late,” we say. God says, “No it is not!!”
Here are two reflections that confirm the heart of today’s epistle and gospel reading for me – it is never too late.
When Peter told the Jews that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus whom they had just crucified, they were upset. They were cut to the heart. They had missed it. They hadn’t recognized him, they had crucified him, and he was God. What could they do now? How could they fix this situation? It would seem that everything was lost…it was too late.
… In the Gospel, Mary Magdalene looks for him in the grave and he is not there. He has risen and she does recognize him and tells the others that she has seen the Lord and he is not dead… And it is not too late. Peter tells the Jews to repent and be baptized and they can share in the Holy Spirit. And they did. It’s not too late. They didn’t recognize the Lord before, but they see now, and it’s not too late.
This is the best part. It’s not too late. It’s never too late. We can repent and share in the Holy Spirit. I didn’t really do everything I wanted to for Lent. I started to clean out my closet to donate clothes, but I didn’t get finished, and I didn’t get the clothes to the Goodwill. But it’s not too late. I can take them this week, and they will still do some good. My Lenten sacrifice is a little late, but it’s not too late. I wanted to donate to the food pantry, and I didn’t get it done during Lent, but I can do it now. It’s not too late… If we recognize Jesus now, if we realize now that he has risen and he lives in us, we can repent now. We can do what we need to, and we can share in the Holy Spirit. It’s not too late. (Daily Reflection of Creighton University’s Online Ministries for April 22, 2014) [I heartily recommend this site for your daily devotional reading.]
“…Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!
Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.”
(excerpt from the Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom)
You cannot change what happened but you can change what will happen from here forward by the grace of God. Repent and believe the gospel. It is never too late.
Not too late for the thief on the cross who is now our brother in Paradise.
Not too late for Mary at the tomb, to whom Jesus said, “Mary!”
Not too late for two on the road to Emmaus to whom the Lord drew near and ministered and whose sorrow was turned into rejoicing.
Not too late for Thomas who wasn’t there. Eight days later Jesus appears, just for Thomas.
Not too late for Peter who denied Jesus, to whom Jesus asked, “Do you love me?”
Not too late for …
With God all things are possible especially, according to the Biblical witness, after it seems to be too late.