Seeing is much more than just a function of our eyes. We can look at something with clear vision but not really see it. Often what we think we see is colored by our prejudices, assumptions and our needs. We think we are seeing clearly but we are not. Allowing God to restore our sight so that we can truly see is a worthy goal for our Lenten journey.
If we keep the themes of Baptism and discipleship in mind as we consider the value of fasting and sacrifice, we quickly realize that fasting isn’t about just giving up something we enjoy. The point of fasting is that we give up something that we enjoy to help us pay better attention to our deeper hungers and desires.
In the Gospel account of the Transfiguration we discover how we progress in the spiritual life: by embracing adversity, by looking upon the glorified face of Christ, and by going down the mountain to proclaim what we have seen to others.
The wisdom of the Church gives us six weeks to reflect on how we have this tendency to prefer the fleeting pleasure or power of sin over the goodness and mercy of the Father. This is where sin is a mystery to us: why, when given the choice to pursue goodness and virtue, do we instead choose pleasure and vice?
Jesus didn’t come to abolish God’s law but to fulfill it. He prompts us to ponder our behavior and challenges us to make necessary changes in any of the areas where we lack or struggle to abide by God’s commandments. We need to pay more attention to the details of our lives and ask ourselves how we want to be considered in heaven.
Jesus says we are salt and light of the earth and must allow the joy of our faith to spill over into the lives of others. We need to put our faith into action, being Christ for others and extending the same mercy and compassion as Christ. A good teacher knows what his students can handle. Do we see in ourselves what God sees in us?
So many people today are looking for the light and warmth of hope and love that can only come from Jesus. On this Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the example of Mary “carrying a light” — the Christ Child — is an invitation for each of us to carry into a darkened world the light of faith burning in our hearts and minds.
There is a darkening of intellect and will in today’s world in an effort to twist the truth of freedom and to be self-serving. How are we to respond to the enveloping darkness around us? We need to follow the light of Christ. Our primary identity must lie in belonging to him, and everything else must become secondary.
Every major revival of the 20th century involved God attempting to restore His control over the Church in an experiential way, not just in a theological or doctrinal understanding. If the Church is to be the leaven for all people and if we are to see the kingdom of God ever expanding, we can’t trust in ourselves but in the fire and might of the Holy Spirit.
Though sinless, Jesus submitted himself to the baptism of John the Baptist so that we could be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Through our baptismal vows, we commit to share Jesus’ concern for the lost and broken. If Jesus was willing to live a life of service for the poor, we must do the same or we can’t call ourselves his followers.
The magi followed a star so they could worship someone they knew nothing about. In their rejoicing, the wise men gave earthly treasures, but their greatest gift was offering Jesus their time. Do you follow the promptings of your heart to seek Christ, giving him honor and respect? He humbly waits for us to come and adore him.