The return to God

To accompany our Lenten journey, we propose a meditation by Msgr. Massimo Camisasca.

Camisasca Small
Anonymous Syrian or Palestinian, Prophet Joel, VII cen. (Louvre, Parigi)

“Yet even now,” says the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord, your God for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil. (Joel 2:12-13).

The appeal that the prophet Joel makes to Israel comes, with high likelihood, in the period in which the people have returned from Babylon. He speaks of famine, of a destruction of harvest, of an invasion of locusts. They can no longer offer sacrifices to the Lord. The livestock suffer because they no longer have pasture. The trees bear no fruit, the juice of the olive has been depleted, the fields produce no grain, life has been sucked dry. There is no wine and, therefore, no longer any joy (cfr. Joel 1:2-12). It is necessary to return to God with the heart, with fasting and with penitence because Heaven will open itself anew and its grace will descend again on the earth and on the people (cfr. Joel 2:19-27).

Today, God has become for many an unknown or even undesired guest. The meaning and the program of what we call “conversion” are situated in this passage: returning to welcoming God into our lives, allowing Him to return to abiding among us. The condescension of God is absolutely “strange”: He, who created the world and the life of every man, desires that every person and everything might live with him in a relationship of friendship and communion, like a great family that recognizes their own Father.

The true revolution in the world is to return to welcome God who created us and saved us

God is no longer spoken of these days in public places. At most, He is allowed to be a private presence. Religion, many theorize, must not have a place in civil society because it could be a source of division and conflict. But we must not be slaves of mass media and give in to this lie. Just the opposite: faith in the Son of God made man, who died on the cross and rose for us, is the foundation of the equal dignity of all men, of their possible fraternity. But above all it is the vital sap of communion and peace through the sacraments, above all, Baptism, the Eucharist, and Confession; through the Church, which the II Vatican Council called “sign and instrument of the unity of the entire human race.”

The true revolution in the world is to return to welcome God who created us and saved us. But this radical change cannot happen if it does not begin with each one of us. We must return to making space for God in our lives.

We can pare down at least a little our use of telephones, of the computer and of our access to social media? Can we dedicate to God a little of our time, with the prayer of the rosary, reading the Sunday Gospel, or conversation in our families? We must not think of prayer above all as a sacrifice that is asked of us, but as an opportunity that is given to us. The one who dedicates himself to prayer, little by little, sees a positive transformation in his existence: joy and serenity enter into his life.

We need to begin small changes decisively, so that then we might be able to extend them. In this way, our entire life will be brightened.

We can also begin to become aware of our mistaken dependence on money, on food, on the opinion of others. It is necessary that we concretely begin a detachment from certain goods. I’m not speaking of an arid renouncing, as much as letting something more important enter into our day, which is capable of relativizing the attachment to material goods. Why not dedicate an hour a week to visiting someone who is alone or sick or in difficulty? Few lights will do to return to illuminate the entire desert of life.

We do not need great projects or great renunciations. We need to begin small changes decisively, so that then we might be able to extend them. In this way, our entire life will be brightened.

Lent is a path towards freedom. At the end of it, we can discover in the death and resurrection of Jesus the revelation of the face of God. This path of penitence, furthermore, educates us also, step by step, to look with more simplicity and desire at the Lord, font of joy and only hope for our life.

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