I think many of us dare not say that we want more out of Lent. I believe this desire for more has to do with our hope that our Lenten prayer, almsgiving and penance will make this year’s Lent more meaningful, more grace-filled, and yes, more of the transforming experience we have been taught in Catechism and we hear about in homilies.
There is nothing wrong with wanting more to improve ourselves. It is a good desire. In fact, it is a holy desire when we want to know God more fully, to love God more intimately, and to follow God more closely. Lent encourages us to cultivate such a holy desire if we do not have it. For those who do, Lent challenges us to deepen it.
This desire for more should open our eyes that nothing can satisfy us more but God alone. This is the focus of Fr Mark Toups’ reflection as we enter the Third Week of Lent:
- No matter if you’re having a great Lent or struggling to keep your Lenten commitments, we all desire more. We search relentlessly for the one thing or one person which will make us happy. But there isn’t any one thing or any one person on this earth who will fulfill our every desire.
- We were made for a person, a particular person. The person of Jesus Christ.
- The Gospel reading for the Third Sunday of Lent tells the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. She has a similar story to many of us. She has been and is still looking for the thing or person who will make her happy; that she has had 5 husbands and is with a man tell us so. She is looking for more.
- Jesus also wants more. He knows what the Samaritan woman is looking for. This is why he intentionally pursues her. He knows exactly what he is doing when he pursues her. He wants to liberate her, free her, and so, save her.
- Jesus has the same plans for us. He pursues us just as he did the woman at the well
- We hear Jesus say elsewhere in the Gospel that he thirsts. He is thirsting for all of us; he is thirsting for our salvation.
- As much as God thirsts for us in the person of Jesus, God also created a thirst in our hearts. This thirst makes us want more and to desire for more. If we pay attention to our hearts this Lent, we will notice we do indeed desire more. Let the Lord take you deep within your heart. Ask yourself, what do you really want in life? What are you really searching for? Do you want more?
Fr Mark Toups’ reflection focuses on the human longing you and I have for more in our lives. He asserts that God created in each of us the thirst for more so that we will thirsts for no other than God alone. His reflection invites us to consider how we can improve and make our journey with God this Lent special and blessed.
Below are three points for your prayer this week.
a) The Samaritan woman comes to the well because she wants water. But she is really wanting more. As she converses with Jesus, she recognizes him to be the promised Messiah who will grant her desire for ‘more’ — he will give her ‘living water’ ‘welling up to eternal life’.
As a person with same-sex attraction (SSA), or a family member or friend of one with SSA, what is the ‘more’ that you want out of Lent this year? Do you recognise Jesus to be the Messiah who can give you this ‘more’ you thirst for? When was the first time you recognized Jesus doing this to save you?
After answering these questions, sit down and share with Jesus your answers. Speak to him as you would with a friend. You may want to have another chair or cushion in front of you to imagine Jesus before you. Speak to Jesus. Have your conversation with Jesus. Then, listen to him. When you have both talked, spend some quiet time together. End with the Glory Be.
b) In biblical times, Samaritans were among the most despised people in Judea. No Jewish person would have any contact with them. Jesus did. As a person with SSA, you might have experienced being marginalized.
Yet, I believe you also experienced God loving you through Jesus. Fr Toups explains that God does this because God thirsts for us, our wellbeing and our salvation. God’s thirst moves him to reach out to us relentlessly. God is determined and persistent to look for us. We may hide because we feel sinful and unworthy, but God will search us out. God wants nothing less than to find us so that he can forgive us, welcome us into his embrace and lift us up with his life. God does all this to save. He does because his mercy loves us to no end. God jealously wants us for himself. This is why God sent Jesus into our lives.
Are you surprised that God wants to chase after you to save you — a person with SSA? How so? What would you want to say to God when he finds you, and with a great big smile, says to you, “Be not afraid; you are mine”? Find a good friend or family member and share your thoughts and feelings about God jealously wanting you for himself. Pay attention to your friend’s reactions and/or comments
c) The Samaritan’s encounter with Jesus convinces her that she had met the Messiah. She goes back to town and proclaims this good news to all. Then, she brings the whole town to see and hear Jesus.
What has been your experience as person with SSA, or a family member or friend, about bringing your person and gifts to the church? What has been your experience in bringing others to the church? If there is one concrete action you can do this Lent to share the good news that God loves people with SSA and will accompany them, what will this be, and how will you practise it?
This Week’s Prayer & Reflection
“There is no space where God is not; space does not exist apart from Him. He is in heaven, in hell, beyond the seas; dwelling in all things and enveloping all. Thus He embraces, and is embraced by, the universe, confined to no part of it but pervading all.” – Saint Hilary of Poitiers