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3/16/24 Lenten Day of Recollection

It was a beautiful sunny morning at St. Jude Catholic Church in Tequesta the morning of March 16, 2024. About 22 Community members gathered in the Chapel and in silence to hear the spiritual reflection from Deacon Bob Laquerre. He started with a short, humorous story, which led into a deeper Lenten message of how God is always with us, through the trials and triumphs of life- no matter how dirty or clean we feel.


My name is Deacon Bob Laquerre and I was ordained September 7th, 2017. I worship and minister as a Deacon at Our Lady Queen of the Apostles in Royal Palm Beach. I attended Cursillo # 53 at All Saints Catholic School in Jupiter in 2011, where I sat at the table of St. John Paul II.


During Lent, on Palm Sunday, little Johnny was sick so he couldn’t go to church and had to stay home with a sitter. When his family returned home, they were carrying palm branches and little Johnny asked what they were for. His older brother explained, "People held them over Jesus' head as he walked by!” Little Johnny suddenly looked disappointed and sad. What’s wrong his brother asked? "Go figure”, little Johnny says, "The one Sunday I don't go, and He showed up!"


You know, if we were little children, Lent would be a time where we give up candy or playing video games. Looking forward to Easter morning when we find we’ve been visited by the Easter Bunny, but we’re not children. We’re adults, people who have a more mature spirituality and understanding of God and a greater purpose of faith. We’re also people who sometimes do wrong things, we sin and we have to atone for that. We’re people who sometimes get spiritually lazy and we need to get back into shape. And sometimes our spiritual eyes grow weary and we lose sight of our direction and purpose during Lent.


We fast and abstain from foods and we’re asked to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. We set personal goals to improve our spiritual life. And now being in the 5th week of Lent, we’ve probably come to the realization that we fell short on some of our Lenten goals and we’re troubled by it. We’re disappointed with ourselves…we failed again. We didn’t attend morning Mass every day like we planned, or we weren’t able to pray our spiritual devotions as expected, we caved in and succumbed to eating or drinking what we thought we would give up. But today, instead of focusing on our worthiness, failures, and shortcomings, I’d like to speak of something that will lift us up. Something that will provide solace, comfort, and a renewal of Spirit. And this is what you need to hear, “God likes to get his hands dirty.” Do you feel better already? If not, let me say it again in a different way, “God likes to play in the dirt.”


Perhaps I need to explain. From the very beginning of creation, in Genesis, we find God playing in the dirt. God stoops down from heaven to form us from the dirt, from the dust of the ground. (Genesis 2:7). Now we know how that scene ended. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and we lost our innocence and sin entered into the world. We were reminded of this on Ash Wednesday when we were told, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”


Now you would think that God would say, “you messed up, you’re on your own, I’m not going to help you. You’re sinful and unholy.” But that's not the way our God is. You see, God sees all our weaknesses, our hurts and all our faults. He sees how soiled our souls are. He sees the stain of sin within us. Yet, because He likes to get his hands dirty, He doesn’t mind embracing us while we’re soiled with our sins and failures.           

 

Psalm 113: 5-9 speaks of this:

Who is like the LORD our God, enthroned on high, looking down on heaven and earth? He raises the needy from the dust, lifts the poor from the ash heap, Seats them with princes, the princes of the people, Gives the childless wife a home, the joyful mother of children.

Let me share a story of how God accomplishes this in us. 2 years ago, I was in the prayer tent at our Parish Christmas Festival. I was positioned near the shepherds who were in front of a small fire tending their flocks. One night, one of the shepherds broke out of character and found his way to my tent with a distress Call for Help! Apparently, the shepherds were getting harassed by a young boy who was taunting them and throwing sticks at them. The message was, “You need to get that kid out of here!” So, I walked over to the young boy and introduced myself. My plan was to distract him by inviting him over to my tent and it worked. The young boy asked what my tent was for. I explained that we pray for people. Some people want God to hear their petitions or they may want to receive a special blessing for Christmas. I asked the boy if he had anything that he wanted me to pray for. At that point, he put his head down and I noticed that he started to cry. He looked up at me and asked that we pray for his uncle. His uncle had recently died and he was very close to him. He missed him a lot. So, we prayed. After the prayer he thanked me and went on his way.


This past year, I was in the tent again and while praying with a family, I saw from the corner of my eye a young boy anxiously waiting to meet with me. When his turn came, he said to me, “Do you remember me?” I looked at him for a short while and then realized it was him again. I told him, “Yes, I do remember you. How are you doing this year? Do you have anything that we need to pray for? He looked at me with a big smile and said, “ Nope. Everything is alright.” And then he left.


So here we have a child who was restored. One minute he’s going to get kicked out of the festival and the next he’s crying and praying to God. God reached down, saw his wounds and got his hands dirty. He touched this boy and transformed him from Dennis the Menace to St. Francisco Marto – one of the Fatima children.

So, if you’re beating yourself up over your Lenten failures, don’t write yourself off. You're not too far from the finish line, you haven't failed too many times. Don't give up or quit. Remember, God loves to get his hands dirty! There's no depth to which God won't get his hands dirty to free you, to restore you and bring you back on the right path of your journey through Lent.

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