The Lord relates to us as we are and walks with us in the midst of real life, seeking to provide whatever it is we need to get through things together. A simple proclamation but often one difficult to take to heart. Indeed, the Lord welcomes us as we are, even and especially in our sinfulness and weaknesses, along with our successes, etc. He wishes to show us the way to new life, but also awaits our openness to accept him into our lives.
So, we are called to come as we truly are to the Lord, We are challenged not to come to him as we want to look like, or how we wish we looked, or even as we imagine God might want us to be etc., etc. It is about coming as we are – with all our plusses and minuses. For that is the person the Lord wishes to walk with and carry us through to new life.
This season of Lent is a time for stepping back and looking into our proverbial “mirror”, and coming to honestly name even more who we truly are and naming what we need to bring to the Lord for forgiveness, for healing, for opening our hearts even more to the Risen Lord.
It is not always easy to look in that mirror for us – frankly, we often do not see what we want to see, or simply wish it were better. In our honest look into our true mirrors of life, we see those things we still struggle with that we thought we had gotten past, and those things that stand in the way of our relationship with the Lord, and if we are honest we will see some people in our lives we avoid or write-off, and yet, whom the Lord is also inviting to walk with him.
We are called to honestly face and name who we truly are, and to come to the Lord with an open heart. Lent is a wonderful time to open ourselves up to the Lord even more than we have before. But, Lent also can feel like one of those scary times of life when we truly face reality that we would rather not admit. And yet, let us all take the risk to come to the Lord as we truly are – what a difference it makes when we truly open our hearts and lives to him.
The distribution of Ashes on Ash Wednesday started this season off. This tradition of being visibly reminded of our needs is part of our faith tradition and is a good visible sign of our call to come to grips with whom we truly are. In all this we are invited by the Lord to come to him and seek to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus at Easter even more.
These 40 days of Lent help us get in touch with our sinfulness, our need for continued conversion, our call to empty ourselves of those things that we hold onto too tightly or that stand in the way of life and come to open ourselves even more to the Lord. All of this depends on learning to “come as we are”.
We truly have much good within us, but in the same breath, we also all have much to let go of, or need to seek help in letting go of – our sins, our weaknesses, our inability to do it alone. Take heart for the Lord chooses to walk with us, if we let him. And he walks with us as we are and will lead us to become what we are called to be.
How often do we tend to assume the Lord plays favorites, or once healed that we no longer need to be healed again, or convince ourselves we have gotten past things that held us back when in fact we still have a long way to go? No matter how far we have come, we still need to step past even more. It is time to stop trying to “put up a front.”
It is time for opening ourselves to the Lord and all that he has, and continues to, do for us and his people. Indeed, let the Lord open your heart even more than before this Lent. Do not seek a Lord who will “kiss it and make it better” but one who loves us as we are and walks with us to become all that we have been created to be, little by little.
And do not be surprised that some of what lingers within us may well be what we have named before yet still struggle with, for often some things are truly ingrained in us even more than we imagined. But, the Lord knows us as we are, and, like a good friend, simply asks that we come to him as we truly are, with our plusses and minuses, and to come with an open heart that seeks to listen to his word, his direction and seek his light.
May this season of Lent become for us a wonderful celebration of hope and promise. Just know this will only happen if we come with a truly open heart. We are invited to come as we truly are. For until we come as we are, we will never truly become what we are called to be.
Fr. John E. Krumm, Pastor of St. Brigid Catholic Church in Xenia.