Finding God this Lent
An artist asked the gallery owner if there had been any interest in his paintings. "I have good news and bad news," the owner replied. "The good news is that a gentleman inquired if your work would appreciate in value after your death. Definitely, I told him. He bought all fifteen of your paintings."
"That's wonderful," the artist exclaimed. "What's the bad news?"
"The guy was your doctor."
Hopefully that will not be our wake up call this Lent. The challenge is here for us. How do we make the work of our lives more valuable?
The late Father Andrew Britz said, “…the church stands or falls on its ability to make God present in the ordinary lives of ordinary people.” The challenge I gave myself in this column is to make God present in the lives of ordinary people like us.
Too often we live our daily lives without a thought to the wonderful gifts with which the creator has surrounded us. The joys and pleasures of life indeed tend to distract us from their source. It is only when we are brought to our knees by the trials of life that we return gratitude to God.
With gratitude comes humility. Fr. Brendan McGuire speaks about the great ideas that sometimes just pop into out heads. "Where did that come from? We know that it did not come from us,” he says. “It came out of nowhere, but nobody else knows that, and we are tempted to say, ‘Yeah, yeah. It was my idea.’”
We need to realize that we are just instruments of God, very important instruments.
Each and every one of us is destined to do great work. “We have a role to play and our role is to point the way to Christ in all we say and do, and to take no credit but to give it to Christ,” McGuire says.
Our work this Lent is a service to God. Whatever our work, we have been called by God to do a fine job of it. If you are a parent, or a teacher, you are building that child, bringing out the sculpture that is hidden inside that rock or that lump of clay.
When he was carving or sculpting a new piece of work, Michelangelo protested when somebody would say, "How do you carve and etch that out of that blank rock?" He would retort, "It is not I who carves something new. All I do is set free what the Lord has inside the rock."
If you are a carpenter or brick maker, you are much more than that. You are helping to build a precious home, or a cathedral. We are co-creators with God. What we do in this world, our work, should give us self esteem.
Teilhard de Chardin thought that 90 percent of practising Christians of his time looked upon their work as “spiritual encumbrance” which took them away from God. How sad.
At age 70, Michelangelo wrote to his nephew Leonardo and said, "Many believe, as I believe, that I was designated by God to do the work that I do. Even now in my old age, I cannot stop doing this work because I love what I do and I am called by God to do it."
Wherever we are, God is present. What ever we are working on, we are doing God’s work in the marvel of his unfolding creation.