Following Jesus isn’t always easy. We live in a consumer and media driven society which challenges us to believe what the culture is telling us rather than the Good News of the Gospel. Too often the world is an unequal place where Christian values are suppressed and the message of the media dominates, promising us happiness and success through the acquisition of material goods, wealth and power. The dawn of smartphones and social media means our every move is tagged and often our appointments are planned and fulfilled in the virtual world. It is all too easy to drift along in this information age. We have instant communication to almost anywhere and access to all we need to know. But are we really happy? Does access to the latest gadgets satisfy the interior desire of our hearts to be loved, respected and cherished as human beings? Have we lost our capacity to be surprised and our innate ability to take pleasure in the simple moments of life?
Often we discover that the kind of happiness promised by the culture of today is short-lived. There is so much bad news, depression, pain, suffering and surely an erosion of family values in our society. Many people have lost hope and have no sense of meaning or purpose in their lives. Others are poor, marginalised or neglected by the majority. Certainly there is a real need for authentic Christian love. As Christians we often forget that it is the small and sometimes invisible things we can do which make a difference to those less well off than us. It can be even just a smile or saying hello to a stranger. There is a real opportunity for us to encounter Jesus by reaching out to those who live in poverty, welcoming them just like we welcome the people we meet in our everyday lives in our families, communities and workplaces.
During Lent the Church invites us to take a step back from the busyness of our lives to encounter the Lord. Jesus tells us that our real treasure is not signified by the amount of worldly goods we possess, rather it is the gift of eternal life which we will inherit in heaven. He meets us just as we are in life and draws us into his loving and gentle presence. Let us spend time meditating upon his loving sacrifice for us on the Cross. We can offer all our struggles, emptiness and pain completely to him. Jesus wants us to find refuge in his heart of love and to stay with Him. He meets us with compassion and unconditional love when we come to Him with our needs and burdens. He never grows weary of listening to us and invites us into a loving conversation with him, to talk and listen to him as we would do with any friend. We can recognise his presence in this very moment and offer Him our prayer in the silence of our hearts.