In the gospel this past Sunday we heard Our Father in heaven during the Transfiguration of Our Lord proclaim, “This is my beloved son, listen to Him”. Listen to Him. What sound, simple advice that I know I do not always follow. In today’s first reading we hear the prophet Isiah also telling us to “Listen to the instruction of Our God”. How well do I actually listen to the words of Our Lord?? Applying that wisdom to today’s Gospel, Our Lord has much to say. A summary of what He says to us might be as follows: be careful to not just preach but put into practice what we have been taught and know to be right, or when we see others struggle we should do all we can to help them, or to insure you are not seeking the honor and praise of your fellow man. Instead, serve others and always be humble.
What great advice if we would just listen. What a great list of things to do for lent. For me the thing to work on most is serving others and being humble. I often think “serving others” has to be an intentional activity that I set out to do, like volunteering at the local food pantry. While that is certainly serving others, it can also be more simple and spontaneous like letting another in line before me, handing out a McDonald’s gift card to the guy on the corner with the sign, pausing to hold a door open for someone. All have me thinking of others more than myself. Serving our neighbor has the added effect of humbling me as well. The Lord had to know that would be true.
So even though we are already more than a week into Lent, I am going to look each day for opportunities to simply and quietly serve others. I am also going to go through the Gospels and look for the words Jesus actually spoke. Listening to them, and reflecting on them, I will hopefully learn more of what the Lord thinks would be good for me, and incorporate them into my Lenten practices.
Steve Walsh is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre ,and a good friend of the Passionist Community