All of us have named, at one time or another, certain things as our “priorities.” From time to time, when we become aware that we are not doing something that is really important, we say, “I have to make that a priority.” Lent is an important time to do a top-to-bottom review of what we really value and what we actually do, in our everyday lives. Whenever we do this, we always discover that something needs re-aligning. We discover that there are values we hold, commitments we have made, or growth we desire, that simply do not make it on the list of our “actual priorities” – that is, the things that take the “first places” in our lives. For example, we might say, “Our family is our first priority!” But our actual behavior might say otherwise. We might say, “Our faith is among our top priorities.” But an honest self-examination may show otherwise. We may say, when we hear the words of Jesus, i.e., that we will be judged on only one thing, how we care for “the least” of our sisters and brothers, that we really do care for them. But we may only occasionally do things like feeding, clothing, caring for or defending those on the margins. What does that say about our priority lists? Honestly reviewing what is most important to us, and just as honestly assessing what we actually do, is prime Lenten activity.
What are we hoping to make of Lent this year? Is it based upon our growing sense of God’s love for us? Is it based on our clear vision of who we are? Is it based on our deepening desire to be more closely aligned with the heart of Jesus? Do we dare hope to enter into a heroic, courageous, and self-sacrificing love for and service to others? Does “care of the poor” have a chance of making it into our priorities? Are we ready to break old, self-defeating habits and secure the establishment of new ones which help us be who God calls us to be and who we actually want to be?
Let us pray. “O God, following you wholeheartedly definitely is not always easy. Making your priorities our own is not always easy. Please give us the courage to follow you anyway. Even when life is difficult, when others around us don’t understand, when our own hopes run contrary to your hopes for us, and when we don’t see where you are leading us, please give us the courage we need to persevere – one day at a time. Through Christ your Son. Amen.”