We are now entering into our Second Week of Lent.
We may have begun our Lenten journey with hopeful commitments that we will “do” Lent differently this year. Some want to fast more. Others desire to give more. Still, others choose to pray more. A few may more intentionally turn away from temptations like pornography and gossip.
Today, we might find ourselves disappointed and discouraged that we haven’t practised our commitments well, or we might not even have begun to do them. We might feel that our Lent this year is going to be no different from the same old, same old practices of previous years because nothing has changed. We might worry we will fail to make a good Lent.
But let us recognise that God still calls us to come to him with our burdens and regrets, our failures and our sinfulness. Lent reminds us that God will do this because God is merciful, loving and faithful. We hear this truth in the Entrance Antiphon on Ash Wednesday: “You are merciful, O Lord, and despise nothing that you have made. You overlook people’s sins, to bring them to repentance, and you spare them, for you are the Lord our God” (Wisdom 11.24, 25, 27).
As we enter into the Second Week of Lent, it might be good then to reflect on what God thinks of us. This is the title of Fr Mark Toups’ video:
Below are the key points (paraphrased) that Fr Toups makes:
- In this second week of Lent, we might need to start over with your Lenten commitments. There’s nothing wrong to do this. It’s ok to start again. God isn’t keeping scores; no one is too. Let’s let God lead us onward. God does not think of us as a failure if we have to start again.
- If you’re struggling due to life’s busyness and discouragement or in prayer with distractions and dryness, take heart because God wants to remind you that you are his son or daughter — and he is not giving up on you. You didn’t do anything wrong. Trust God. He is here with you. Make the effort and start again.
- Or maybe you’re really persevering this Lent. Maybe God is revealing truths to you that you had only hoped to find. This is awesome. Keep going. There is always more that God wants to show you.
- Whether you are doing well in Lent or you have to start over and start again, allow yourself to see yourself as God sees you. How does God see you and me? He sees us all as his own — with love, mercy, and compassion.
- God looks at us not as we look at ourselves. We may be overcritical about ourselves. But God looks at us with eyes of mercy and love.
- This is how we are also called to look at others — with Jesus’ look. “Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave” (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 18). How we look at others is how we will treat them.
- In Lent, our prayer might shed light on parts of our lives that we might be not want to see or admit. We might feel unworthy and embarrass about these parts, often sinful and shameful. We might be surprised to see these parts we have tried to hide. But God would have already seen these parts of us. God knows. God wouldn’t be surprised. In fact, God waits for us to see these parts of our lives so that we can give God permission to enter them and transform us.
- This is the good news of the Second Week of Lent. The Sunday Gospel reading is about the Transfiguration and the revelation that Jesus is who he says he is – merciful, forgiving, compassionate and always loving. In Jesus, we see God as God really is.
- This is why God is never surprised about the things you find when you explore the depths of your heart. In fact, he has been waiting for you to talk to Him about these hidden things.
- So, let us not afraid. God looks upon us — His sons and daughters — with the eyes of love always.
Having listened to Fr Mark Toups, find some time this week and reflect on these three points for your prayer.
a) When Lent began, what were the commitments you made to “do” Lent differently? How have you put these commitments into action? What is the quality of your Lent as you begin this Second Week of Lent?
After reflecting on these questions, be honest to yourself and God and make an account for how Lent is progressing for you. What is working well? What needs changing? Is there any help you want from God to make this Lent better than last year’s?
b) Fr Mark Toups shared about how all of us need to see ourselves as God sees us. I think many of us struggle to do this. Some of us are embarrassed to see how God sees us. Others are afraid that God sees our sinfulness. Still, others do not dare trust what they will discover about God seeing us as we are. Yet the invitation is to let God show us how God sees us.
As men and women who have same-sex attraction, don’t we want to see God looking at us with mercy, compassion, and love? Shall we ask God to give us this grace this Lent?
Find some time to sit before God in prayer — whether in silence or nature, before the Blessed Sacrament or in Church — and allow yourself to imagine God sitting before you. Imagine God smiling at you. Ask God to let you see what he sees as he smiles at you. Then, let yourself savour “you” as God sees you. Remain with God looking at “you” for as long as you wish. End with a prayer of thanksgiving.
c) Fr Toups makes the point that how God sees us is how we should see others too. He quotes Pope Benedict, “Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave.” This is an important challenge for the Christian life: how we see others is how we will treat them.
Who do you know that craves to see the look of Jesus? How can you bring this look of Jesus to this person through your words and deeds as a Christian this week? Ask God for the graces you need to make this happen.
This week’s Prayer & Reflection
“And the Lord said to me, ‘You are the delight of my Heart; from today on, every one of your acts, even the very smallest, will be a delight to My eyes, whatever you do.” – St. Faustina
Let us continue to pray for each other as make our Lenten journey, especially to let God help us see ourselves as we really are to Him — His beloved.