Friday, February 23, 2018

Detective work

The Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, is that our God does not remain hidden and distant, but reveals himself in His Son, and comes to dwell among us.  The life and ministry of the Lord presents a series of encounters in which Jesus, God, engages people, revealing something of Himself, and revealing something about them.  Each encounter is an invitation, but to what?  Conversion.  Turn toward Him; change your life, leave something behind, move toward Him.
After Mass today, what say we take a tour?  Let’s visit our “comfort stations” – no, not the old euphemism for rest rooms, but rather the little places we all have where we touch down when we need a break, when we are anxious, agitated, under stress, or just plain bored.
First off, on the way home, how about the car stereo?  Is it on whenever we are in the vehicle, providing distraction and entertainment?
Then let’s go home.    Do you have a favorite chair?  What do you use it for – watching the TV or a DVD, maybe reading your favorite magazine or catalog?  How many things are there in that entertainment center?  And over there in the office, the computer:  does it have games?   The endless parade of the internet?
Ooh, look:  right there next to the computer – the credit card bill.  Let’s look that over!  Urgh.   Beyond the car repairs and school shoes for the kids (and maybe the tuition?), how many of those purchases were impulse buys?  How many for our amusement or distraction, or just indulgences, to feed our vanity or to pamper ourselves?  How many reflect shopping trips, just for shopping’s sake?
On to the kitchen.  Where are the snacks?  What’s in the fridge?  Where do we reach, so we have something to gnaw on or sip, when something is gnawing at us?  Cookie jar?  Candy stash?  Anything we keep where the kids…or anyone else…won’t find it?
Okay, so maybe this tour is a far cry from “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”  But we can be amazed at how many “crutches” we have methodically built into our day, and come to depend on. Sweep them aside, and find that you can get along just fine without them – if we replace them by leaning instead on the Lord.  He will not let us down!  Our lives will be filled with joy, not stuff.  So what say that this Lent we rearrange things a little? 
Let’s take that favorite chair.  Let’s leave it for one in a quieter part of the house, and make it one we won’t fall asleep in.  Can you see the crucifix from there?  Good.  Then let’s put our Lenten reading next to it – Sacred Scripture, of course, and maybe something else too, like the biography of a saint or a novel by a good Catholic author.   Maybe some poetry, or other spiritual reading. Then, rearrange the plan for the day so that we get a nice chunk of time in that chair, every day. How about that rosary?  Is it nearby?   If it’s not here, it should be in the car, to make good use of our commute for a change.
Then let’s take all that entertainment.  How much of that it just makes us want more stuff anyway?  Turn away from that stimulus to acquire, and we won’t find ourselves craving things we never needed before.  So, no more window-shopping in shops or online or clicking on those ads the algorithms have targeted at us, much less magazines or catalogs.  Let’s see how many machines we can leave switched “off” for all of Lent. 
Now the hard part.  Stay out of the kitchen, and empty out all those secret stashes of goodies.  Nope – don’t head off to Starbuck’s, either.  If we can just stop jamming things into our mouths at every whipstitch, we might realize what it is we are truly hungry for:  God.  And He so desires to fill us!
And let’s not forget the other part – almsgiving.  All that money we are not spending on ourselves and our amusement is not just for our own later use.  Let’s give it to someone who needs it, shall we? 
Lent.  It’s not just about chocolate anymore; in fact it never was. 

Monsignor Smith

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