“Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.” – Joel 2:12-13
I don’t know about you but actually rending my heart sounds a bit painful. Good thing that wasn’t what Joel was talking about!
Welcome to Lent, folks, my favorite liturgical season of the year! Today we don ashes on our foreheads as a sign of who we are, and of what we shall one day return to. I’ve often said that today is the coolest day of the year to be a Catholic because everyone knows it, however, those ashes should come from our hearts. If you put on ashes just to be a “cool Catholic” because that’s the thing to do today I’d send you straight to this reading.
Rending your garments is easy. You may not enjoy ripping your clothes to threads, but it is easy to do and requires very little effort – after all you can just go buy some new ones later. Rending your heart is hard, just ask Jesus:
Rend your hearts. Rip them open this Lent, let them burn and bleed for love of Him. Rend your garments if you want to, but the real change in our lives comes from real change in our hearts. What will you really learn if you rip up your clothes? Not much. What will you learn if you rend your heart and offer up your pain, suffering and sacrifices to God? More than you can imagine. We, this Lent, just as every one before it and after it, are following Christ in His journey to Calvary. His pierced heart bled blood and water and made our salvation possible. Even if we are but a small reflection of that sacrifice, just imagine what our hearts would be capable of we would truly rend them this Lent. As we begin this Lent my prayer is that you would return to God with your whole heart. God knows I’ve struggled (a.ka. am struggling) with this whole concept of actually giving Him my whole heart, but that is what Joel encourages us to do, today and everyday.
I look at that picture at the beginning of this blog and I just imagine the Holy Spirit rushing in to fill our hearts, to heal them (isn’t that SO needed?) and to uplift them. Or, I see pierced hands rending my heart because it needs to be open more to Him, He wants to get in. Either way I see hope in that picture. May you rend your hearts in a new way this Lent and may the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all as we follow Christ through these forty days.
p.s. “The Lost Get Found” series is on hold until after Lent. Wednesdays during Lent I’ll be featuring a new Lenten reflection in hopes that it not only keeps my readers on track in Lent but kicks my own butt in gear for this glorious season.