Monday – Treasure in Heaven
In today's Gospel Jesus tells a rich man to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Him so that he would have treasure in Heaven. The man walked away sadly, for he couldn't bear to part with his things.
This reading should make us ask ourselves some difficult questions. First and foremost, we need to ask, “Where is our treasure?”
It's not wrong to have and enjoy material possessions, but we cannot make them our first priority. They are a means, a tool, to use for the benefit of ourselves and others on our journey home to Heaven. If they become an end in themselves, then we have a problem. Then we accumulate, and hoard, the wrong kind of treasure in the wrong place.
Treasure in Heaven, on the other hand, is the exactly right kind of treasure in the exactly right place. It's an accumulation of grace, of prayers, of good deeds, of love. It's a shining trove of spiritual goodness, of blessing, of faith, of hope. We can start building up and enjoying this treasure by accepting each piece of it from the loving hands of God our Father, and one day we will enjoy it fully in Heaven, face to face with the Treasure-Giver.
Tuesday – The Best Sacrifices
What does God want from us? What kind of offerings please Him the most? The author of the Book of Sirach tells us all about the best sacrifices we can present to God:
1. Keeping the commandments and carefully observing God's moral law
2. Giving alms and performing other works of charity with a sincere heart
3. Refraining from evil and shunning injustice
4. Maintaining a cheerful attitude and a spirit of joy
5. Putting God in first place always and everywhere and trusting Him
These are the best sacrifices we can offer God, and we should strive to unite them with the sacrifice of Jesus at every Mass. When we do, we will really be giving God our very selves, all we are and all we do that we may belong totally to Him. This is what God wants from us.
Wednesday – Rend Your Hearts
What are you giving up for Lent? Perhaps a favorite food? Maybe some TV or computer time?
Whatever you decide, just make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. Giving up something for Lent isn't just something to do because everyone else is or because you've always done it or even because it makes you feel good that you're doing something “spiritual.”
Instead, present whatever you're giving up directly to God. Tell Him that He is so much more important than material things and worldly pastimes and that you are sorry for ever putting those things before Him. And make sure you truly believe that.
In today's first reading, the prophet Joel tells us to rend our hearts and not our garments. The Jews tore their clothing as a sign of distress and repentance, but sometimes their action, like giving things up for Lent, was no more than an external gesture. Joel wanted his audience's external gestures to express something much deeper: hearts of repentance, devotion, faith, and love. Our Lenten sacrifices should express the same internal dispositions.
So as you're deciding what to give up for Lent, remember to rend your hearts, not your garments, to let your practices express your deepest love for God.