February 25, 2023
by Cynthia Schmersal
Creighton University's Division of Mission and Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 227

Isaiah 58:9b-14
Psalm 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Luke 5:27-32

Praying Lent

First Four Days of Lent - 23 min. - Text Transcript

“[Jesus] said to him ‘follow me.’ And leaving everything behind, . . . [Levi] got up and followed him.” – Luke 5:28

In initially praying with today’s Gospel, I found myself amazed by Levi’s astonishing freedom.  He left everything, at one invitation, to follow Jesus. Oh, to be such a dedicated and interiorly free disciple!

I write this reflection on the first day of a three-day silent, directed retreat. The reflection was – admittedly – requested well before my departure for retreat. Yet, it is one of a handful of “essential” to-dos that I carried with me into the start of these three days away. I arrived at retreat – a time to be with Jesus, intending for him to set the agenda – with my to-do list, my agenda. No doubt, I am a far cry from someone who left everything behind.

But, as I linger with Levi, I wonder if he truly left everything in the way I initially perceived. After all, he went on to host a lavish dinner for Jesus at his house later in the day, a party at which he introduced his friends – presumed fellow sinners – to Jesus. That doesn’t sound like someone who left everything but someone who experienced a radical reorientation, a reorientation of his life and all that it contained toward God.

And, so too, I suspect is our perpetual call. How might we allow ourselves to be ever more fully reoriented? How might I approach the “essential” to-dos carried with me to retreat as opportunities to encounter and love God more fully, releasing those that do not serve such a vision? How may each of us do so in the unique texture of each of our daily lives? Such is my prayer. As we journey ever deeper into Lent and into our lives beyond, may we increasingly find in the fullness and complexity of our lives opportunity to encounter God, to love and serve God, and – like Levi – to invite others into relationship with God. 

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