I hope everyone's Lent is off to a good start. As it has been my custom, I have chosen a text to be my guide throughout the Lenten season. This year, I have chosen Archbishop Bruno Forte's To Follow You, Light of Life. I read this book last summer during my 8-day retreat and I found it so moving that I'm returning to it.
This morning, I found myself tremendously moved by Forte's explication of the well-known parable of the "Prodigal Son" which he renames the parable of the "Merciful Father." Forte masterfully uses this parable as a window into the drama of God's love, human sinfulness, and the effervescent joy of salvation. As a Jesuit seminarian, I found my own heart pricked when I read the following description of the elder son on the story:
...it becomes immediately clear that outward proximity does not necessarily mean nearness of heart. One can live the whole of one's life in God's house and yet not love God. It is not enough to rely on being inside the walls of the house of the Lord. What really matters is being close to God's heart, deeply in love with him.As we begin our annual Lenten pilgrimage, walking with the Lord to Calvary, I hope that each of us puts our Lenten practices into perspective. Lent is not meant to be an endurance contest, a testing of the will to see how much one can sacrifice or withstand. Rather, Lent is a time to refocus on what is really central and important in our lives: that we dedicate our feeble hearts to loving and serving the Lord. When we make sacrifices, when we abstain and fast, we do so in part to remind ourselves of what is truly essential, of what we cannot live without: the boundless and effervescent love of God who calls out to each of us to fall more and more deeply in love and enter more fully into God's own life.
This Lent, my intention for myself and for others is to grow in an awareness of the love that God offers and to respond ever more joyfully. For I do have all that I have wanted and continue to want: to be a Companion of Jesus, one dedicated to helping to establish God's Kingdom on earth. I need, however, to be reminded daily of why I do this: because I have been loved by God and the best way I can respond to this love is by loving, by preaching the Gospel, by being a Jesuit who is committed to the Greater Glory of God.