Today begins the holy season of Lent–a time to detach ourselves from the baggage we carry around and to attach ourselves more fully to God.
This means fasting and doing without the many good things, seeking what is best: God.
This means recognizing that we need to focus less on me and my needs and my wants, and more on the Lord and his ways.
Let us go into the desert of Lent. Pack lightly but be sure bring a compass, a rosary, and a Bible.
Tuesday evening I continued my reading of the OT and finished the Book of Job. Job’s answer to the Lord in the very last chapter struck me:
Then Job answered the LORD:
“I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted.
I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee;
therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
These are Job’s last words to Almighty God, at least that are recorded on the pages of the Holy Bible.
Job tells God that he had heard much about Him (before this, of course, three men tell Job about God and attempt to change Job’s heart and mind), but that now everything has changed because for the first time, Job sees Him.
Job had heard so much about God, but now, now he sees God! And what happens? Job immediately shrinks: he shrinks in response to the now visible reality that God is God and he is not.
Only then, when Job jumps off the throne and allows God to sit there, does Job’s life change forever. He realizes his own sinfulness and imperfection, so much so that he “despises” and rejects himself.
He repents in dust and ashes.
So ought we.
In dust and ash–that which we are and that which we are sure to return to–we see our own littleness, our own ugliness, our own futility.
This sight of ourselves ought to make us repent. We may be dust and destined to dust, but we are also God’s carefully chosen children. And we fall short of what he asks of us.
And that–repentance–is what Lent is all about.
How should we seek to grow during this Lent? By shrinking!
May we take this away from Job’s life: we will never understand and live appropriately until we encounter God. We can hear all day long about him, but something truly does change when we meet him in all his glory. We have little hope of ever encountering him–and therefore changing–when our lives are filled with things of this world.
And so we fast. We give alms. We pray. We hope. We follow. We believe!