Today’s readings ask us if we can view Lent as an invitation to build our relationship with God and adhere to his commandments more closely, with the ultimate goal of spending eternity with him in Heaven.
The first reading explains how we are to treat the law God sent us through Moses. But these commandments come with a promise: if we follow them, we may “enter in and take possession” of the Heavenly Kingdom God has prepared for us. The entire observation of Lent is a preparation for the remembrance and continued celebration of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. It was through this sacrifice that Jesus fulfills the covenant set forth in the Old Testament, which Jesus references in today’s Gospel. Personally, I have come to see Lent as a time to help refocus on how I can better follow God’s will in my life so as to more fully participate in that covenant with God.
This challenge of more closely following God throughout Lent is often a daunting one and one that I often find myself reluctant to accept in the days preceding Ash Wednesday. However, soon after, I realize that Lent is not so much a challenge as it is an invitation. What really strikes me about the first reading is how accessible God sounds in the Scripture. The first reading asks us, “For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?” (Deut. 4:7). And how wonderfully true that is! Prayer is our steady and unceasing conversation with God. It certainly is comforting to think of how easily we can offer up a thanksgiving, petition, or praise to God with the full knowledge that he is constantly listening and interacting with us.
I love to consider the little ways that God intervenes in my life on a regular basis. It could be through the beautiful spring sunshine, appreciating God’s gift of my mind as I learn a new concept, the boisterous greeting of a friend, or simply in the silence of our church here on campus, but when I decide to notice, he is right here all around me. There is no doubt that he is accessible and trying to make himself known in our daily lives. With him at our beck and call via the power of prayer and recognizing his ceaseless participation in our lives, we can only agree with the first reading that our God is truly an accessible God.
Finally, taking into account God’s immediate accessibility, the invitation to deepen our relationship with God through Lent seems so much less daunting. Building upon that relationship to more closely follow his commandments and to fulfill our side of the covenant is a wonderful way to recognize the celebration of the fulfillment of our covenant during Holy Week.
Together let us explore new ways to experience God in recognition of our never-ending covenant with him throughout this Lenten season.