During the season of Lent, parents and catechists often ask children to give up sweets or television for Lent. Very often, after years of poor catechises and Barney-Jesus theology, the retort comes back: 'Why does God care, if I give up sweets for Lent?'
Why indeed. Barney wouldn't care. Doesn't God love us? Unconditionally? If we don't give up sweets or end up eating them anyway after we've promised to give it up, won't God still love us? Why can't Jesus be more like Barney? Can't we all just get along?
Can you feel the love tonight? Ok, lets join hands and sing Kumbaya.
But seriously folks, if the question ever came up, what would your response be? Does God care whether or not a kid gives up sweets for Lent?
The answer of course is yes. God cares. A great deal. And here's why.
God cares because you care. You cared enough to give up something you love a great deal for someOne you love even more. God cares that you bothered to give something up in obedience to the Church's precepts out of love for Him. God cares that you care for Him and are trying to obey His will.
Whenever we sacrifice something for God, God cares. Whenever we give up something for God, God cares.
Of course God loves us unconditionally. That's not the question. The question is, do we love Him? Enough to give what something that we love for Him?
We should not just fast and abstain because Jesus died for our sins in great torment. When we fast and abstain, we're not just sorry for our sins and grateful to God for His great and abounding mercy. We're not doing all that just because we feel guilty and miserable and all that. These are all good, true and perfectly valid reasons, but they should not be our only motivation.
Acts of penitence, fasting, abstinence and almsgiving should stem, not only from obedience to the Church's precepts, not only from sorrow and contrition for our sins, not only from a sense of solidarity with the poor, but from agape, an unconditional self giving love, of God and of our neighbour.
In our agape of God, all these find their fulfilment. God is love and looking towards our own glorification and theosis at the eschaton, in practicing this love, we become more like God here on Earth.
I've been roped in to teach the Form 4 catechism class this Sunday, so I'm practicing my catechises for that level. What do you think?
16 minutes ago