When I was growing up, the emphasis was on giving something up for Lent. As children in school, we were given small cardboard ‘mite’ boxes, into which we were to put coins during Lent – perhaps our candy money or a part of our allowance. The money was to go to needy children. Nowadays the emphasis is on doing something positive for Lent – perhaps attending daily Mass, making a daily visit to The Blessed Sacrament or praying more. All this so that we might draw closer to the Lord and conquer our frailties so as to deeply celebrate Easter – The Feast of The Resurrection of the Lord. To be honest, it is easier to give something up than to do something positive. Today you no longer hear people asking one another ‘what are you giving up for Lent?’
Today’s Gospel selection from Matthew is Jesus’ take on prayer: ‘ask … seek … knock.’ Perhaps this is an invitation to pray more during Lent. Perhaps it is an invitation to soul-search what we really need to grow closer to the Lord and to one another. I once heard a preacher say, ‘God has a dream – that we all be one with Him and with one another.’ What is in the way of making God’s dream a reality in our world? This soul-searching is really a rending of one’s heart and not of one’s garments as the Prophet Joel wrote which was one of the Mass readings for Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. And we need not take on the whole world – let us focus on our little bit of the world. Let us focus on our attitudes toward one another – family, friends, co-workers, and our physical world too. We are just at the beginning of Lent – there is still time to soul-search.
And so, let us resolve that during Lent we will spend some time in prayerful reflection each day and that we will not be timid in ‘asking’…’seeking’ and ‘knocking.’ May our Gracious God give us to courage to do this soul-searching. Believe me, to do so is harder than giving up that cocktail or chocolate or desert. And may God bless our efforts that we might truly celebrate ‘new life’ at Easter.
…. Brother Gus Parlavechio, C.P.