February 20, 2010

Lenten practices: not merely physical activity, but spiritual movement towards God

As Lent begins this week, another season of penance and return to the Lord is upon us. This is a time of abstinence from meat on Fridays, of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, of ashes and sorrow for sins. It is a time given to us to concentrate on the finite-ness of our lives so we may more closely focus on the inifite life promised to us by Jesus, and on the infinite love of God the Father who waits for us prodigals to return to His arms from our wasteful and wicked living.

In this season however, be aware that actions are meaningless in and of themselves. If we abstain and fast and give to the poor without the proper attitude of love and obedience to God, then those actions mean little. The Lord has to be in it, in you, in your actions for them to be truly vibrant. If these are exercised without God's love, then they remain physical activities. God wants spiritual activity -- He wants your spirit to move twards Him.

Psalm 40: 7-9
...sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require; so I said, "Here I am; your commands for me are written in the scroll. To do your will is my delight; my God, your law is in my heart!"

Ps 40:7-9 reminds us that sacrifice and offering aren't what the Lord wants. Instead, He wants ears of obedience and our availability. Hence the psalmist proclaims like Samuel, like Moses, like Mary: "Here I am!"

1 Cor 13: 3
If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:3 reminds us that giving away our things and self-mortification gives us nothing more than an empty pocket and a painful body if not done with love -- if not done for love of others and of God.

Lord, during these 40 days of Lent, allow us to give up all that does not help us turn back to you. Allow us to sacrifice these temporal things for love of you. Bless our efforts to hear your call daily and to be obedient, with ears that move our feet and hands towards Your Son.

Help us Lord not to do hollow practices with our bodies but to accomplish meaningful acts of love with our hearts -- so that what we give up, what we donate, what we fast and abstain from, may ultimately lighten our physical bodies from material baggage and allow our hearts may fly to You in love. May all this prompt us to serve You through the people around us, most especially the poor and the voiceless, the downtrodden and the persecuted.

And all these things we ask in the mighty name of Your son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,one God forever and ever, Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment