March 1, 2017
St. Thomas Aquinas, Ames, Iowa
Fr. Jon Seda
The word "empty" has a negative connotation for many of us. Like when our gas tank is empty, or we feel empty, or the keg of beer is empty. That's the worst!
Yet the word fits Lenten spirituality very well. St. Paul in writing to the Philippians tells us that "Christ, though he was in the form of God, emptied himself, and took the form of a slave." That is the God we worship, the One who empties himself for us out of love.
To become holy is to become like Christ. This means we have to empty ourselves of our selves. The Gospel for Ash Wednesday gives us three ways to do this: Prayer, to look at God. Fasting, to feel our deepest hungers. Almsgiving, to see the needs of others.
We have to be intentional and deliberate about this, because original sin causes all of us to fill our lives with something other than God. We are almost addicted to filling our lives with food and drink, with noise and distractions, with possessions and relationships, with social media and entertainment.
Lent goes in the opposite direction. Together we practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving so like Jesus, we empty ourselves of our selves, so like Jesus we can be filled with God.
May these days of Lent be full of emptiness, the kind that leads us to God.