Sunday, March 05, 2006

Going in to the desert

The Gospel today tells us that prior to beginning His public ministry, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert. Those 40 days were spent fasting and in intense prayer. The middle-eastern desert was and still is a dangerous place filled with wild animals, scorpions, snakes and vicious sand storms

What are we called to do during the 40 days of Lent? What does the Lord ask of us? The prophet Micah tells us that the Lord asks simply this, "To do right, love goodness, and to walk humbly with God."

We know what doing right is and most of us love goodness, but many people do not understand how to walk humbly with God. To walk humbly with God is to acknowledge that we are empty without Him.

There is an old story about a painter who was painting the outside of a church. He was the low bid and once he started the job he thought of ways to cut corners. After a few hours he decided to water down the paint a little. The next day he noticed that he couldn't notice any difference between the full paint and the watered down paint so he added more water. As the days went on, he added more and more water to the paint. When he fnally finished the job, he was quite proud of the work he had done and he had quite a bit of money left over. Suddenly, a rain storm came in and as the rain fell is washed all the paint off the church. When the storm passed the painter heard God speaking from the cloud saying, "Repaint, Repaint and thin no more!"

I think we thin on a daily basis. We thin when we don't use our gifts to their fullness. We thin when we are proud of doing things without God's help. We thin when we do nothing but the bare minimum.

May our almsgiving be from our need, our fasting from our meals, our sacrifice from our desires. Let your Lenten sacrifices not come from your excess, but from your core.

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