“What must I do?”
We remember the conversation Jesus had with a man who asked what he had to do to have eternal life. Jesus wanted to know if he kept the commandments and he said he did. Then Jesus asked him to divest himself of his earthly positions and become a disciple. The man said he couldn’t do that and he walked away.
During Lent we’re confronted with a lot of questions as we journey to the innermost reaches of our soul and this man’s might just be the most determining of them all, “What do I need to do to live forever?” He didn’t ask about being religious or holy, he already was that, he kept the commandments. In his conversation with Jesus, he found that something was missing. Something held him back and he couldn’t get free. It made him sad, but he liked it that way. The man’s question, of course, is the ultimate question and it should be our central question during Lent. If we can answer it, everything else falls into place. It’s a deceptive question, simple on one hand and dangerously profound on the other.
There’s an ancient story about a young seeker of truth that go’s something like this: “Once upon a time a seeker went from place to place to discover an authentic religion. Finally, the seeker found a group with an extraordinary reputation. They were known for the goodness of their lives and for the singleness of their hearts and for the sincerity of their service.“I see what you do,” the seeker said, “and I’m very impressed. But, before I become your disciple, I have a question to ask: Does your God work miracles?”“Well,” one of the disciples answered, “it all depends on what you mean by a miracle. Some call it a miracle when God does the will of people. We call it a miracle when people do the will of God.”
The answer, I think, lies in our own story. We talk of Lent as a journey, let’s make a trip out of it where we’re searching for something and open to other discoveries at the same time. One discovery might come from something we hear or read in the Scripture as we place ourselves in the story. A Lenten service might offer us a glimpse of glory or an opportunity for contemplative withdrawal from the chaotic world around us. Our fasting might help us gain insight into the spirituality of courage. Our almsgiving can call us to the kind of involvement that really changes things. Lent might help us work miracles for the poor and marginalized and for ourselves.
This year, let’s try and follow the Lenten calendar, not just in the name of tradition or good order, but rather as our attempt to discover the answer to the ultimate question. If we put our heart and mind and soul to it we can discover and do God’s will, we can even do miracles.
Remember, Lent begins on Monday the 19th of
February – safe journey, Fr. Timothy