Reflection March 28
Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)
I’ve recently seen on Facebook, “I’ve been saying for years that I’ll get the house cleaned up when I have time. Now, I see that wasn’t it.” I’ve also seen, “Some will come out of this lock down wonderful cooks, and some will come out with a drinking problem.” There is a sense that this time brings opportunity, but not a guarantee. I think that is spot on, and St. Paul would have applauded the insight.
Pope Francis in his urbi et orbi talk said, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.
We have been dealing with our coronavirus lockdown situation for a bit now, and we can take a moment to step back and look at what we have done. Different people are in different situations. Some have had to spend more time and energy at work to deal with the practicalities of keeping society going and meeting people’s needs. Some are at home and getting cabin fever. Some are trying to help their families work together to cope with this reality. Most of us have had some major changes in how we do things.
Whenever our lives change, there is an opportunity to form some new habits. Just the fact that our usual routine is disrupted makes it easier to change some of the ways we have done things. Unfortunately, I find that it is easier to form and harder to break bad habits than good ones, so when that opportunity arises, it is essential to be deliberate about what we are going to do.
I suggest we need to look at the problem on two levels, the most abstract and the most concrete. In the abstract, what are the principles that are most important? What are the qualities that we most like to admire, that we would like to gain? How would we like to be described? What would we like people to say about us, and what would we like God to think of us? More importantly, what kind of person is God calling us to be? I have found, of course, that leaving it in the realm of ideas means nothing will really happen. We must also examine and strategize our most specific behaviors. What behaviors move us toward being the kind of person we are called to be? How have we been using this time? What behaviors have we started? What have we stopped? Did we make grand plans and have them not work out?
I would suggest at this point, deciding a few small things to do differently could be powerful. The smaller and more consistent we are, the more we have something we can build on. What would we be glad to have done during this time? What habit will be helpful to us? What will we be glad we have learned? What is God calling us to do at this point?
The best time to do this in now.
Thanks for the reflection. Mark