Over the past few days I’ve heard many of the plans my friends have for this Lent. Some are giving up social media, sweets and soda, others are adding things into their repertoire such as Adoration, intentional prayer, and reading Scripture. Just because habits are hard for me to start and keep going a few weeks ago I started using Loyola Press’ “3 Minute Retreats”. It’s a chance for me to stop working and refocus on the task at hand. Today’s retreat was called “The Consequences of Not Repenting.” The title alone was enough to make me shutter.
In the beginning of these Retreats there is always a focusing Scripture passage. Today was from Luke 13:5 “But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”. Yikes! Nothing like fire and brimstone first thing in the morning.
When talking about repentance and Jesus’ teachings, many people look towards the rich young man (Luke 10: 17-23). The man hearing that he needs to give his possessions away to the poor leaves saddened. It is left to our imaginations what happens to this man and what he does. The common expectation is that this man does nothing. Recently reflecting on this Scripture I want to offer another idea.
All through the Gospels we have countless illustrations of people encountering Christ completely. Many are healed, several “converted” and some simply fed. Regardless Jesus was a beacon of change, it was up to people how they responded. We see examples of those who have bad reactions too. The Sanhedrin (on several occasions), demons cast into pigs, and those who do not show gratitude for what they’ve received from Christ.
This rich, young, man is different. He just leaves. Yes, he’s sad because of his riches but that’s all we know. The difference is that he has encountered Christ and that encounter will have an effect. We just never see it. Just as we should be radically transformed by our encounters with Christ through prayer, the Sacraments, and through others. Because we are all human, that transformation may take a while.
So, it’s Ash Wednesday. The start of what should be 47 days of transformation. P90x can guarantee body change in 90 days, depending on what we do, we should see some change spiritually, in 40. How we achieve that change is up to us. So put down that piece of chocolate, log off Twitter and let’s make a change for this Lent.