Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Everything I need

Friends of Faith:
A very wise young lady has had me thinking for the past several days about this answer to “What is heaven like?”

Her response, “Heaven is right here, right now. Because we have everything we need.”

"Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, Offerings and libations for the LORD, your God.” Jl 2: 12-14

Since I knew early Monday that this reflection was going to be late, I decided to do an Ash Wednesday  thought  instead – one fed by my own soul searching after hearing her response—and tied to our Lenten journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Hopefully these questions and thoughts will help us all focus on Lent, our personal preparation, how we might make Christ present for others and how Christ has made himself a sacrifice for us on the Cross, to give us the heaven we have here on earth and the heaven promised by an Easter resurrection.

Prayer: What am I praying for? Is God telling me no, because I already have what I need? Do I ask (pray) to God for my wants or do I pray to Him for my needs (more trust, to let Him have control)? Am I praying for more and not recognizing what I already have?

If I am sick—am I turning down help and missing blessings God is trying to provide for me? Despite some of the financial headaches of our healthcare system we still have the best healthcare professionals available.  Do I find and thank God for both the smallest and the greatest of these blessings?

If my spouse doesn’t seem to be all I think they should be—am I telling my spouse what it is I need, or are they attempting to fulfill the wrong needs because they truly don’t know what else to do? Am I praying to change others when I should pray to change myself instead?

Am I thankful that I have the opportunity to pray publicly? And do I take that opportunity?

Fasting: Our readings this week were about how we cannot honor both mammon and God. How much do we have and how much do we really need?

Most of us have plenty of food, and some of us could probably do with eating a little less. Most of us have a warm roof over our heads, while many are living without shelter or inadequate sanitation. Most of us have plenty of clothes in our closets, while some barely have the shirt on their back, or sandals on their feet. Who could we help by sacrificing a meal, a degree on the thermostat for even a day, or a single shopping trip? Should we be making a donation to the local clothes closet or food pantry, or as Pope Francis suggests “to look those in need directly in the eye” by helping in a soup kitchen?

Almsgiving: Our Christian call is to make ourselves holy, and to help others see Christ in and thru us—to help make others holy. Our baptismal call is to make this earth a small piece of heaven for others. That doesn’t mean to just give money (although we need to do this too), but more importantly to share a piece of ourselves, to do something for others, to make someone laugh or smile, and to make someone feel important enough that we care enough by being a good Samaritan—rather than walking past and hoping someone else will take care of them.

“Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward…..  “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,… “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites….Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.” Mt 6: 1-6, 16-18

Heavenly Father, You sent us Your Son, Jesus, a “peace” of heaven, to dwell within us. Jesus, You did not put on the gloomy face of a hypocrite, but accepted Your sufferings and died to save us so that we might have a piece of heaven. Holy Spirit, Enlighten us, to the pieces of heaven around us.  Thank you for giving me everything I need. Amen.

Don’t make Lent about “me.” Make Lent about seeing the pieces of heaven around you, and about helping others to see the pieces of heaven around them. YOU may be everything they need!

Blessings this Lenten season,


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