Thursday of the First Week of Lent
Know that we are not alone and that God cares about our struggles
Est C:12, 14-16, 23-25/Mt 7:7-12
We are now one week into Lent and for many of us our Lenten promises have begun to weigh more heavily. The promises to set aside thirty minutes a day for spiritual reading; to presume the good faith of those who have hurt us or disagree with us; to abstain from that latte or glass of wine and donate the money to the poor – these small penances seem both too challenging and too trivial. Too challenging in that we just can’t find the time or the grace or self-discipline to persevere; too trivial when weighed against the spiritual failings and sin we discover after a searching and candid self-examination. In our failures we feel so alone and defeated.
And that of course if exactly what Satan desires, that we feel alone and defeated. We withdraw into our shame, knowing our weakness in excruciating detail and certain that we alone have already stumbled in our 40-day journey.
Then we hear today’s readings - readings focused on the generosity and faithfulness of God in answering our prayers. In the Old Testament reading Queen Esther calls herself the one “who [is] alone and ha[s] no help but [God].” In the Psalms King David says he lives “surrounded by trouble.” These readings prepare us to hear the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus says “Is there anyone among you who would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or would hand him a snake when he asked for a fish? If you, then, evil as you are, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
God’s message is clear. Know we are not alone and that God cares about our struggles. He loves us and is pleased when we seek to draw closer to him through prayer, self-denial, and acts of charity. Have faith that even in our failures, he will see the true desires of our heart. Know that if we only ask he will come to aid us as we struggle to draw closer to him.
Teresa S. Collett
Professor of Law