“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart…” These are the first words we hear from the readings as we begin our Lenten journey and they provide direction for our 40 day journey. Can I return to the Lord with my whole heart? Can I truly say the Lord has captured my heart? What do I think about all day long? What motivates me? What are my goals and vision? Is it to give my whole heart to the Lord?
I love the image of going out into the desert with the Lord. Once I spent a few weeks doing missionary work in Mexico and I remember our host missionary taking a regular “desert day” – a day to go literally into the wilderness and pray in the quiet and listen to the Lord. In some way we try to recreate that in our lives this Lent. We try to slow down the merry-go-round of work, family, friends, and obligations and create a quiet space to ask, “How am I doing, Lord?”
How can I create that necessary space over these 40 days to sincerely hear the Lord? Two practical ways to return to the Lord are through Confession and the Eucharist. Over this season seek to make a good Confession, baring your heart before the Lord. There is an honesty in confession that is like going into the desert and being cleansed. Stay close to the Lord in the Eucharist. Perhaps you could attend one extra daily mass during the week or perhaps take some extra time to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. What a better way to return to the Lord than to be close to his heart?
Whatever our commitments are this Lent let us pledge to give our whole hearts to the Lord! We have a 40 day season of grace in front of us. Let us open our hearts to all that God has for us! “Behold now is a very acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation!”
Fr. Tim McKeown is in his 18th year as a priest of the Diocese of Savannah and serves as pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Brunswick and Nativity of Our Lady in Darien, GA.