March 2015

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moths and vermin destroy,
and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moths and vermin do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.”
[Matthew 6:19-21]

Greetings in the name of Christ,

I am not personally active on any social media, however, the term “selfie” has been in the news recently, and even I know what a selfie is (though my computer does not recognize it as a word yet).

The Merriam-Webster On-line dictionary (yes, I do use computers, but primarily for work and/or research) defines “selfie” as “an image of oneself taken of oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks.”

It seems we cannot get enough of ourselves, so much so, that we need to constantly take pictures of ourselves in order to show everyone where we are, what we are doing, and even what we are wearing. We always seem to be finding new ways to make things all about us!

We seem to be getting so wrapped up in ourselves and everything that we are doing, that we have completely forgotten about our encounter with the Lord (I believe that this is was Pope Francis calls “spiritual Alzheimer’s”).

We tend to build walls around ourselves and become enslaved to the idols that we have built with our own hands. We have become so focused on the things that bring us pleasure and excitement that we forget about the things that give us purpose and meaning.

Instead of trying to become someone who we think we want to be, we should focus on who we truly are – God’s children. How easily we forget about the one that created us, who gave us our many gifts and talents, and who loves us just the way we are.

Lent is the perfect time for us to return to God with our whole heart, and we can do this through the three spiritual exercises of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

First, we need to start with prayer. You are encouraged to take time each day to pray. Pick a time that works best for you and let it become a habit. Remember, prayer is a two-way communication. We can place our petitions to the Lord, but we also must listen, because God has things to say to us as well.

Second, we should fast, and I am not talking about just from food. We need to make a commitment that we will take a few minutes each day to fast from the things that consume our lives (social media, Internet, video games, work, etc.), and then to use that time to deepen our relationship with Jesus. We need to disconnect in order to reconnect with our Lord and Savior.

Lastly, we need to do the exact opposite of the “selfie”. Maybe we can call it the “unselfie.” Whatever we call it, we need to change the way we think and act. It’s about giving alms. Alms is defined by Merriam-Webster On-line as “something given freely to relive the poor”, though I like the definition provided by Wikipedia better, “giving to others as an act of virtue, either materially or in the sense of providing capabilities for free.”

Instead of pointing all the attention to ourselves, we need to flip the camera around and start looking at others. We need to picture the situations of those around us. We need to start seeing that others need our attention and love, and act on it. We must imitate Jesus and live the gospel!

Lent is about denying ourselves in order to make more room for God. It’s time for us to be selfless, not selfish. It’s time to focus on giving instead of taking. It’s time to stop looking within and start acting without.

Think of Lent as God’s “speed zone”; apply your brakes and slow down. Be less busy. Turn off the TV, cell phone, and radio, and listen to the God who speaks in a whisper. The breath of wind that can barely be heard but certainly felt if one has the proper disposition.

During the 40-days of Lent and beyond, let us truly empty ourselves so that God can fill us completely.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4

May the grace of Jesus Christ increase in you this lent.

In faithful service,
Don Baker

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