On the fifth Sunday in Lent we remember Saint Mary of Egypt. She was a sinner, publicly known, a temptation and a scandal to men. One day she came to a church and she felt that she couldn’t enter it. There was some miraculous force that was preventing her from entering. She realized that it was all her sins that were keeping her out.
This was her wake-up call. All her past was darkness, and she knew only one way to get out of it. She needed to shake off all the evil and to start a new life. She walked out of the city into the desert where there was nothing but heat, and hunger, and loneliness. She felt this was the only way to change her life. Year after year, with fasting and prayer, she fought all the evil that had built up in her soul; all the memories and sinful desires. It took her almost 50 years in the desert to feel that her soul was cleansed.
What do we learn from St. Mary? We obviously can’t disappear into the desert alone to cleanse our souls. We have families, jobs, and a community that depends on us. But we can see her life as an encouragement that even the most sinful person is able to change their life. She teaches us that the only difference between a sinner who is lost and a sinner who finds their way is determination. If there is something you want to change in your life, only you can decide to take the first step. But you don’t have to do it alone. We are all here to help you.
St. Mary of Egypt has become a source of hope for us all. This is why the Holy Fathers have placed the celebration of her memory at the end of the Great Fast as an encouragement for all us and to show us that it is never too late. If you haven’t fasted yet this lent, it isn’t too late to start now. If you haven’t been coming to church, it’s never too late to start coming. If something inside you just doesn’t feel right, or you know there is something in your life you can improve on, now is the time to make that change. Don’t wait until tomorrow.
May the Lord God give us all the strength to make the necessary changes in our lives to cleanse our souls.