Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. (Psalm 37:4-5)
Sharing your faith is kind of like being the “Free Hugs” guy at the metro stop. As far as you are concerned, all you want to do is provide something good. Not only that, but you want to give it for free. However, despite your good intentions, most passers-by view you with reactions ranging from mild amusement to confused disdain. Very few take what you’re giving at face-value, and even fewer accept the gift.
But whatever you’re giving, whether it’s a free hug or the Gospel, when people ignore the offer or pass it by, there is this lingering feeling of sadness. It comes from the desire to share what you know somebody needs, and having them turn it down or blow you off altogether – well, that is inconceivable.
I imagine that God the Father experienced the same feeling in today’s first reading. Our Lord lays down a very simple outline for life –
Walk in the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper. (Jeremiah 7:23)
He doesn’t ask his people for obedience so that He will feel better or experience some ego boost. On the contrary, the Father calls out to His people in love, knowing their every desire and need and offering them the path to fulfillment and prosperity.
But instead of listening, the Word of God says that the people turned their back to Him, and not their faces (Jer. 7:24), and that, despite sending prophet after prophet to remind the people of the right way, they still turn away (Jeremiah 7:25). Instead of responding with faithfulness, they banish faithfulness itself from their vernacular (Jeremiah 7:28).
God the Father is constantly calling out to us, pleading for us to follow His commands. As our Maker and Father, He alone knows what is best for us and what will satisfy our every thirst. He offers His very Self so that we can be his people and He can be our God. This is not some ego-driven exercise or depressing, over-pious sacrifice. He offers us life (John 10:10b). He offers prosperity (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). He offers us joy (John 15:11).
As we continue to walk through Lent, let us ask the Holy Spirit to pull back the veil so we may see the ways that God the Father is calling out to each one of us – individually and personally. May our Lenten sacrifices not be perceived as burdens but as paths to prosperity and freedom. Let us pray that we can see more fully how the God of the Universe offers himself to us, simple creatures, and trust that with Him, we will never be led us astray.