Lent is a good time to remember what we are here for, and to once again center our lives on our purpose.
“Be holy as your Father in heaven is holy,” Jesus commanded. And St. Paul said, “This is the will of God — your sanctification.”
God wants us to be holy, to be saints. This is God’s will for you and for me; this is his plan for every person. And he orders his creation according to his purposes, which is our sanctification and salvation in Christ.
It is simple. It is beautiful. It is the whole truth about our lives. It is the whole truth about the world and about history.
Our challenge is to trust in Jesus, to believe in his love for us, to believe that he has a plan for our lives, and to entrust ourselves totally to him, seeking his will in all things.
We enter into Lent for a second year now under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic. Since last Lent, we have seen our lives disrupted and disordered by this deadly disease. Our faith has been tried and tested in many ways.
My prayer this year is that we will make this Lent a time to renew our trust in the Lord, to strengthen our confidence in God’s personal love for each one of us.
Through our prayer, our sacrifices, and almsgiving, I hope that we can come to a new awareness of God’s presence in this pandemic, to understand that even through the suffering and pain, God is carrying out his plan of love. He is still working to make us saints.
In the Scriptures, trust in the Lord is the constant call and command to believers. Trust in his holy name. Trust in his word. Trust in his steadfast love, his mercy, his saving power. We cannot rely on ourselves. God alone must be our rock and our refuge, our help and our shield.
God’s providence, his plan for creation and his tender care for us, is at the heart of Our Lord’s teaching. In the Sermon on the Mount, he speaks of our heavenly Father feeding the birds in the sky and causing the wildflowers to grow.
Jesus teaches us not to worry about our lives — not about what we will eat, what we will drink, or what will happen tomorrow.
Our Father knows what we need, Jesus tells us. And if we seek his kingdom first — “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” — we can be confident that God will give us every good gift.
Jesus teaches us to see that everything comes from the loving hand of God and there is nothing that happens in our lives — including the tragedies, disappointments, and sufferings — that is not either willed by our Father or permitted by him for our sanctification.
These are hard truths, and many of our brothers and sisters are haunted by this question of how God can permit suffering and somehow bring some unseen good out of it.
But Jesus says that in our Father’s loving plan for creation, not even a little bird falls from the sky that he does not know about and care about. And as he reminds us, each of us is worth far more to God than the little birds!
God is in charge, in the world and in our lives. What we cannot understand today, we will understand tomorrow. The scandal of evil, the innocent who suffer, the hardships that we and our loved ones must endure — in everything God is working according to his mysterious and loving purposes.
We need to grow in our trust in the Lord. We need to entrust ourselves more and more to his tender care and seek more and more to do his will in everything.
The best way to grow in trust is through prayer. Learn to pray with the psalms, especially. These are the prayers of people who trust in God and seek his will even in great trials and sufferings.
You should make little acts of faith often during the course of every day. Pray: “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you!”
Know that Jesus is with you, by your side at all times. Know that he is arranging everything out of love for you. Trust in the Lord who will never abandon you in your time of trial.
Pray for me this week and I will pray for you.
And as we begin this second Lent in a time of pandemic, let us entrust ourselves again to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our Blessed Mother. May she help us to receive everything from the hand of God and to do his will with joy.