Preparing for a new springtime of the heart

by | Mar 14, 2021 | Presence


It’s finally here: Laetare Sunday, the day we push the proverbial pause button on Lent and shout “rejoice”! We have made it half-way through Lent and survived the hungry belly-rumbles and headaches from fasting. Somehow barbequed steaks are more irresistible on meatless Fridays, and you might even secretly have been musing the notion of stealing one of your kid’s cookies out of their lunchbox! All were resisted, and there is hope to continue this success forward for the short time left before Easter. 

“If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity.”   (Saint Ignatius of Loyola)

St. Mark tells us about the rich young man who approached Jesus wanting to know what he must do to enter His kingdom. (Mk 10:21-22). Now is a good time to take this to prayer and see how we might bring God more deeply into our Lenten journey: 

…One could read it quickly and easily think of something they should give up to God.

…Or they could meditate in Lectio Divina style and see what resonates.

…Or, using St. Ignatius’ way of contemplation, put themselves in the scene eyeball to eyeball with Jesus. 


 “Jesus looking upon him, loved him”


Reflection: God is love. As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus is a Divine Person. While we can look at one another person with love because God first gave it to us, for Jesus a look is love itself. Allow His loving gaze to penetrate, and you’ll know exactly what He calls you to give up.

We can then understand the profundity of the rich young man walking away from Jesus: “At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful”.  Jesus didn’t send him away nor put roadblocks up for him to hurdle as if he must prove himself to God. Rather, Jesus was inviting him to an eternal life of peace and love if he would simply just give up one thing. Sometimes I wish the Gospel writers had been inspired to tell us how sad Jesus was every time someone walked away from Him. 

Fortunately, God never breaks His covenant with us. So even when that young man walked away, the opportunity to return was there (and we hope he did!). All he needed to do was turn and face Jesus again, and that’s all we need to do as well. Jesus will do the rest, coming after us as He is already in constant pursuit of us. Recall that Jesus never set up a nice cozy office for people to come to Him. He was always in motion, going out, seeking them. And us. 

So now reconsider your Lenten commitments. “Giving up” isn’t just giving up 40 days of chocolate to then eat 40 days-worth of chocolate on Easter morning!  It can also mean taking on something, e.g. giving up a complacent attitude to take on a compassionate one. Choosing to be conscious of smiling. A renewed effort at the daily examen prayer. Anything we can do for 40 days can become a lifelong habit. 

Laetare Sunday can be more than just regrouping strength and pushing forward. It can, and should, be a time of reflecting upon how this period of atonement has affected you spiritually. Too often we beat ourselves up for being imperfect, and Lent can become a time of extra self-scourging. This isn’t what God wants for any of us. He wants us to open our hearts to Him in the smallest of ways. Permitting His Spirit to seep into the cracks and crevices, small healings take place that give us the fortitude to detach from worldly pleasures. Better yet, if we allow ourselves to be loved by Him, that detachment will not disappear on Easter morn. We will arise in a newly resurrected relationship with Jesus. That relationship, rather than our own might, will be the foundation for new growth, a new springtime of the heart. 

I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth. I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:15-21)

 Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊

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