Yesterday I saw an amusing cartoon in time for Lent and in light of Monday’s announcement that the Pope was going to resign (see above). It shows the Vatican and a comment balloon that says, “You’re giving up WHAT for Lent?”
As we begin our Lenten Season I am sure that most of us have decided what we are going to do for Lent. But in making those plans, have we really reflected on the meaning and purpose of the Lenten Season? Lent is NOT the Church sanctioned time for going on a diet. Many people decide to give up cookies, candies, desserts, etc. for Lent. While there is nothing wrong with that, the key is in why are we giving those things up. If it is because we want or need to lose a few pounds, then we are failing in our Lenten discipline.
We heard the real reason for Lent in today’s second reading, from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, “be reconciled to God.” What keeps us from being reconciled to God?
Jesus told us that the two Greatest Commandments are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself. What keeps us from loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength? What keeps us from spending time in prayer? When we come home from work, do we just turn on the TV for several hours filling ourselves up with “reality TV” or sports or news/talk shows? There is nothing wrong in and of themselves in those TV shows, but if we fill up all our “free” time with those kind of things, do we really have an excuse for not spending time in prayer and spiritual reading so that we can draw closer to God? Maybe we are busy with meetings for various clubs and organizations, or in going to the gym. Again, these can all be good things, but if they fill up our soul so much so that we leave no room for God with work in our heart, then there is something wrong.
Have we been ignoring some work of charity that keeps making itself known in our lives because we do not want to get involved, or we are saving our money for something for ourselves? So, has self-centeredness filled our hearts so that we seem to have little concern about our neighbors, both near and far, who are in need?
God is the most important relationship in our lives. He literally gives us every beat of our heart and every breath we take. However, so often we think little about our relationship with God. We certainly do not treat it as the most important relationship in our lives.
Lent is a time for us to look at those things that keep us from loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves, so that we can get rid of them. Then we will be make room in our hearts for God to work so that we can be reconciled to Him. So whatever we decide to do for Lent, make sure that we are doing it for the right reason, to draw closer to God and in love for our neighbor.