February 27, 2017
Expanding upon a reflection I wrote last year:
Pier Giorgio Frassati was the camel who passed through the eye of the needle, the rich man who was willing to unload the burden of his wealth in order to enter through the narrow way. He was surrounded by earthly goods, but he withstood any temptation to covet them. Most people born into wealth have difficulty letting go of the comforts they’re so used to, but Pier Giorgio didn’t hesitate to embrace the poor and offer them whatever he could. In him, there was no trace of the selfish fear that holds many of us back from truly seeking the good of our neighbor. We fear that to truly love another will mean risking all that we already have, but what we don’t realize is that all the worldly things we possess are nothing in comparison with the value of a human soul—of our own souls, as well as those of our brothers and sisters. And what good is it to cling to the things that weigh us down if we can’t enter the Kingdom with them? Whether it’s money, goods, jobs, friendships, relationships, status, or time, we all have things that we are tempted to prioritize above all else because they give us a sense of security and comfort in this world. However, we are not meant to feel secure or comfortable here; the ride is supposed to be bumpy. We have been told to expect trials, to persevere through suffering, to be tested by fire. But in God, we can find a greater security: an anchor to the shore beyond, leading us onward through the crashing waves to our true home.
We are asked to give wholeheartedly—not just a partial gift, but everything we have and everything we are. This is not an easy thing to do, but we can trust that the Lord will not let our sacrifice go to waste. The fruit of our gift will be much greater in His hands than it would be in ours. We don’t need to keep a tight grip on everything, holding on to a sense of control. We can trust Him to handle even our most precious gifts: our riches and our poverty, our joys and our sorrows, our hopes and our fears.
Each day, make an act of surrender to God, offering Him those things that you are most afraid to let go of. Give Him everything; entrust it all to Him. As you slowly learn how to loosen your grip on the things of this world, you will find a peace that is greater than anything the world can give you.
As we enter into Lent, take an inventory of your heart, reflecting on the comforts you cling to too tightly—maybe it’s Netflix or ice cream or social media, maybe it’s the temptation to focus on yourself instead of serving others, maybe it’s a sense of complacency that holds you back from praying every day—and make a commitment to replace those things with prayer and service. Yes, it’s going to hurt at first. But it’s also going to give you a sense of freedom as you learn that those things are not what truly sustain you, and you are strong enough to go without them. Even when they are all stripped away, you are still rich as long as you are rooted in God’s love. These worldly comforts can numb us to a true sense of wonder at God’s greatness; they hold us back from experiencing all the ups and downs of the human experience. This Lent, take the plunge; open yourself up to the depths of suffering and the heights of joy. Let go of the things that numb you, quiet all the noise in your life, and let God amaze you within the silence and emptiness.