As I said in my Ash Wednesday homily, we have been faced with so much this past year. We are all haggard and exhausted from 2020. When I discovered that Lent began on February 17, my own reaction was, “Really?!?”
Lent is a time when we often think of how we can renew our devotion to Christ. It is a time when we want to crank up our faith, do more, etc. Where do we go when we have been in a year that has been asking us to sacrifice at every turn? Where do we turn when there feels like there is nothing left?
We turn to the words of Jesus as he is in the wilderness in the Gospel of Matthew. Facing temptation from Satan (like we do); having been fasting for 40 days and is hungry, and is weary from his trial, he responds, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4).
We were never meant to “go it alone.” Visualize the idea of “picking yourself up by your bootstraps.” That is not a very high lift. In fact, one must bend over to even grab their bootstraps. It is a ridiculous notion. If we try to lift ourselves up by our bootstraps, we are more than likely going to fall on our face.
If we need an extra boost, or to go higher, doesn’t it make more sense to raise our hands to the heavens and ask God? It is the Lord who reached down in the advent of Jesus to save us. It is the Lord who will raise us up on Easter in the Resurrection into eternal life. It is the Lord who will sustain us through the desert like our Hebrew fathers and mothers in the Desert of Sinai.
Rather than thinking you have to “give something up,” I am encouraging you to “Rely on God.” Rely on him by “asking the Lord to help you give up something.” Ask the Lord to help you pray more. Ask the Lord to help you clear time to read the Scriptures more. Ask the Lord to help you do something for the poor (like pack Blessing Bags this Sunday after Mass). Ask the Lord to help you go to Reconciliation. Ask the Lord to help you not say the bad thing that almost came out of your mouth. Rely on God instead of trying to continue to go it alone.
Maybe that is the truest meaning of Lent: we make it through life by relying upon every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Rely on God.