Thursday of the First Week of Lent
This Week’s Intention: That God may bless and protect all those who carry healing and peace to the poor, the outcast, and the forgotten people of the world.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 7:7-12
Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”
There are many who would argue that we are living in especially selfish times. It is not necessarily that people are any more inclined to selfishness than in the past, but that today there is such a greater opportunity for it. There is so much gratification available to obsessively covet, from material possessions to social luxury to personal convenience. And there is also an even darker side. Because of modern media and communication, we have vastly increased our awareness of the scope of human suffering and want…which vastly increases the number of persons suffering and in want who we can choose to ignore.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to his followers about not hesitating to bring in prayer their needs to their Father. It is worth noting that he was speaking largely to persons who were poor and forgotten. It is also worth noting that, one, he exhorts them to ask for good gifts, and, two, he offers as examples simple gifts for simple daily life. Jesus is teaching that the things to want and to ask for are only those things that we all need and that we will readily share with everyone else. In our interdependence for life and love, the gift of having is that we then are able to give to others, just as we hope they would be able to give to us.
In his book, Voice of Reason, author Bryant McGill wrote, “The greatest joys in life are found not only in what we do and feel, but also in our quiet hopes and labors for others.” The Lenten spirit of self-sacrifice reminds us that we all are in some way agents of one another’s wholeness. God calls us to forgo the ease of living only within and for ourselves, and to embrace the responsibility of being instruments of his peace and love to all. We can do that with good gifts, gifts that fill our hearts instead of feed our gluttony, gifts that join us together instead of drive us apart. May we all ask our Father for good gifts, ones that we can then offer and give to each other.
Eternal Father, your son gave himself as an offering for those crying out for deliverance from the pain of life. In this time of Lent, we pray that we will have the courage follow him, to bring your wholeness to the brokenness in our world. Make us strong to help those in need, keeping watch for any of our sisters and brothers that we might be able to serve. May we turn away from the sin that hardens our hearts and embrace the compassion and justice that heals and empowers us to live as your children. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
St. John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts forever.