Using Lent to reconnect with God

Complete the circle
By George Evans
What do we do as we search again to make this a good Lent. Do we pray more? Yes. Do we go to daily Mass? Yes, if possible. Do we give up something? Yes, if its something that’s hard and means a lot to us like cussing, smoking or drinking. Do we treat our spouse, children or grandchildren better. Yes, and now we are getting to the God stuff because of the other stuff.
When we pray more and better in quiet and perhaps with scripture, go to Eucharist daily or at least more frequently, deny ourselves those pleasures we love or are addicted to then the God stuff all of a sudden smacks us in the face.
The reason is simple.  Prayer, sacrament, self denial and discipline purify and open us to allow the God who is always there with his voice calling and arms open to be heard by us and embraced by us. Once we hear him and embrace him then the God stuff automatically follows.
Instead of me, me, me we focus on you, you, you.  Remember Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law though he was tired after a long day and healing the daughter of a foreigner, a Greek woman, Syrophoenician by birth, even though he was trying to go unnoticed when he went to the district of Tyre.  He knew from prayer what his father wanted of him and he responded accordingly and this was his God stuff. And he periodically needed to hear and be touched by his father, just as we do, to keep going in his mission. Should we not do the same and serve and touch the other? Is this not what Lent is meant to be about?
From the first pages in Genesis God’s method is clear. After creating us he gave us a beautiful garden filled with all we needed, nourished and embraced us and gave us the command to take care of this world and the creation he had given us.
He didn’t tell us just to sit back  but rather to “be fertile and multiply,” “to have dominion over all the living creatures.” He used the Cain and Abel story in the best cross examination in Scripture to make it clear that YES, we are “our brother’s keeper.” He repeatedly blessed his covenant people, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Isaiah and the other prophets and after forming them sent them to do the great things in the Hebrew scriptures. It is always His way to love and form his people and then to send them to do the great leads of the Covenant. It always is a matter of coming to him and then going from him to bring him to others, to the world.
Jesus comes from the Godhead itself formed from all eternity in his relationship to his Father and brings to us the very life of that relationship.  Jesus goes from the Father and touches as many people as possible in his relatively short time on earth. But he touches them in such an extraordinary way by his life and Resurrection that the world is forever changed.
Time and dates are based on his short life. His disciples came to him after being called, and formed by him proceeded to bring him to the ends of the earth as commanded in the Great Commission, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”
Lent then is that special time when  we come again to Jesus and the Father with renewed emphasis on prayer, sacrament, self denial and openness to the Spirit who is the love of the Father and Son, and touched as we will be by their embrace then we go to bring them to all nations starting with every person we meet in day to day life.  We go to spouse, children, grandchildren, co-workers, friends and even enemies. And we take Christ with us to all.  And when we do, the great surprise is that we see Christ in each of them.
We go to the poor, homeless, beggars, widows, orphans, aliens – we go to all and we meet them in our  everyday life, not in some foreign country, and we serve them. We take Jesus with us because we have been formed by him and have been made strong enough by him to serve and we let him act through us as his hands and feet.
And finally our serving brings us  great peace and union with him, maybe for the first time. With the resurrection on Easter as we are touched with a glimpse of eternity arm and arm with our brothers we have served.
(George Evans is a pastoral minister at Jackson St. Richard Parish.)