The Old Testament often tells the story of a people who have been abandoned by God, enslaved and exiled from their promise land. They received this punishment because they refused to obey the law, defiled the temple and scoffed at the prophets who tried to show them the error of their ways. While abandoned, enslaved, and exiled, they cried and mourned because they realized the need to repent and turn back to God.
Our participation in Lent should also tell this story. How many times in our own lives do we feel abandoned, enslaved and exiled from God? Why do we feel this way? Is it because we have turned away from his law, denied the teachings of the Church, or told those who challenge us to “get out of our face”? Reading the gospel may make us realize that we too love the darkness instead of the light. We may not want our darkness to be exposed – and that is why we continue to make a half-effort of our faith.
However, as we open ourselves to God and his teachings, we step closer to truth and light. We step closer to freedom. We step closer to who we truly are. In the second reading from Ephesians, it says that we are God’s workmanship, we are his masterpiece. We were created for good works that God prepared for us.
God made us for a reason, and that reason was to do good on this Earth. If we constantly turn away from God, then we miss out on the opportunity to love others and do the good things he has planned for us to do. If we turn away from who we are, God’s masterpiece, then we turn towards a distorted, shadowy self. Who wants to be that? Who wants to be a masterpiece that is hidden, tarnished, dusty or forgotten? Who wants to waste their time here on Earth trying to do the right thing, but always missing the bar because we are not open to God’s plan for us?
I want to be something glorious, a beautiful creation of God – and I know that I am. However, in order to really, truly be that masterpiece, I must look for Him, follow his law, seek the truth, and embrace those who challenge me. This is the essence of Lent: walking away from the darkness in ourselves into the light of Christ, into a more perfect self, and embracing the masterpiece that we are. When we do this, we can begin to do those good works for which we were created with the help of God’s grace.