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  • Writer's pictureDiocese of WNC

Reflecting the Generosity of God: A Lenten Message from Bishop José

Matthew 6:20–21

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Lent is a multi-faceted season of self-reflection, repentance, renewal and possibility. It is the period of time that leads us through the narrative of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, to the cross and grave and, eventually to Easter Sunday. Lent offers us a time to pause and consider how we are being transformed by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Lent is a season that invites humility and honesty about the ways we move and live and have our being in the world. This is a time to reflect on our relationship with God and how we are living out our baptismal vows as followers of Christ. The season of Lent invites us to open ourselves up to God’s generous gift of grace.

Truth be told, for many years now, I have approached Lent differently than what is generally understood as the typical focus of the season. I do not “give up” something like chocolate or Facebook (although there is nothing wrong with doing either). I also do not spend the five weeks of Lent wallowing in shame for my faults and failings.

Rather, for me, Lent reminds me of God’s infinite and manifold mercy, how sin and death are redeemed through God’s own self-offering love. Yes, Lent is a time when the community of faith is called to repentance which is really about turning around, back to relationship with God our Creator, turning back around toward our giftedness, turning back around toward our holy goodness. In doing this, we then find ourselves dwelling in the peace of God’s grace and how we are called to honor God’s generosity through our actions and attitudes. For me, I find myself seeking out thin, liminal places where I can abide with God in Christ. Every Lent, I turn again and again to that part of the collect for Ash Wednesday that promises “God hates nothing God has made” trusting in the knowledge that God loves me just as I am and that is enough.

This Lent, I encourage you to seek and find your own thin places, where you experience God drawing closer to you. Whether out on a mountain trail, or on your front porch with a beloved friend, my hope is that you’ll find your liminal places where you encounter God’s mercy and love.

When Jesus spoke of “laying up treasures in heaven”, I believe he was referring to those things we value. Truly, the orientation of our hearts is reflected by what consumes our time, our money, our energy. When we reflect on Jesus’ words, we can ask ourselves: “how am I loving others?” and “how am I participating in God’s generosity?” The treasures that Jesus is talking about isn’t simply about money. Holy treasures are embodied when we lend a helping hand or a listening ear. Holy treasures are embodied when we give freely of our time and talent to lift others up.

I see this happen when a high school teacher spends part of their summer leading a week of Vacation Bible School to children in a neighboring community. I see this happen when people actually smile and offer a genuine “hello” to a young person in the LGBTQ+ family because the gift of “seeing” someone as a child of God is extending the grace and love of God already bestowed on us. I see this when people offer forgiveness for the sake of restoring relationship, even when it seems the other person doesn’t want or deserve it.

My friends, I pray that with God’s help, you may listen to the movement of the Holy Spirit in your life and find moments to reflect on the God’s mercy and discern ways you can share the generosity of God in creative and dynamic ways that help build the beloved community of Jesus in the world. Amen.


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