“Yet even now,” says the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and tear your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful. Joel 2:12-13
“Yet even now.” Last week, during Ash Wednesday Mass, these words of Joel from the first reading rang out in the church and then began to rattle around inside my heart, causing me to reflect and ponder upon the grace of Lent the Lord has for me right here and now. As life speeds by each day, with constant planning and preparations for the future, it can be easy to lose sight of the present moment, and what the Lord is doing right now. However, Lent is not designed for our future selves to receive the Lord’s mercy once we get to some predetermined state of perfection. Lent changes our hearts in this moment — yet even now. Despite how your 2020 has been going so far, there is grace yet even now for each of us.
But why do we enter into this season of Lent? It can be easy to get caught up in the “hip,” “cool” ways to do Lent. Last week I saw several articles online talking about “creative things” to give up that will make this the best Lent ever. Although there is nothing wrong with any of these creative ideas, we can do all these “cool” things but still miss the point of Lent. Joel, aware of this, continues, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and tear your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful. The point of Lent is for us to return to the Lord, not because he is cruel and wants us to earn our way back into his graces by performing feats of penance, but because he is MERCIFUL, and wants us to be close to Him.
So, in these first few days of Lent, whether you are riding the Lenten high, or you are already finding yourself struggling to keep up with your Lenten commitments, remember why Lent matters. The Lord is merciful, and he has graces he desires to bestow upon you, yet even now.
Praying for you.
PS – if you decided to do something crazy this Lent like decide to sleep on the floor, and have realized just how thin the carpet is, and perhaps you need a switch. This Lent come and meet the Father in a new and powerful way by reading Fr Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Greater Glory which can be purchased here. With each purchase, inside the book you will find an access code to a free download of the Gospel of John on audio, it might be just what you need to return to the Lord, yet even now.