"A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me." – Ps. 51:10

About a few weeks before Lent, I received a bittersweet phone call that made me think deeply about my life and my obligations for the next few years.

I feel like a pilgrim in a foreign land without GPS. I have to learn again how to read a paper map called prayer. Oh, how it feels to "trust in the slow work of God."

I like to think of myself as a "decent" Catholic. I go to Mass weekly, I go on a retreat once a year, I have a journal and I am an active member of a young adult group. However, I go through the motions. Ministry and church life are my routine. I follow the "group GPS" (I go to events, participate and lead) but I haven't searched, looked at, or referred to my God-given map in my backpack to go to where I'm supposed to go. Pope Francis invites young people to have dreams that are "real, with our gaze always facing the horizon." What are those dreams? What are those desires?

I pray in groups, I pray before meals, I pray for others, but I haven't really approach Jesus in prayer with brutal honesty and openness for my own needs. I procrastinate for prayer time, and I conveniently tell myself that my daily commute is my 1-on-1 time with the Lord. This Lent, I realize that I can tell myself whatever I want about my prayer life, but the fruits of my prayer (or lack of) will manifest itself. Am I full of love? Am I joyful? Am I patient and kind? Am I gentle and forgiving? Am I living my life with passion and purpose?

In today's reading, we read about Jonah and how he became a "sign to the Ninevites" (Lk. 11:30). Isn't it interesting how a few chapters earlier his anthem was practically, "God, anywhere but Nineveh!?!" In Jesus' life on earth, isn't it interesting how the devil tempted Jesus to be powerful, relevant and acknowledged when he's making an effort to stay close to the Father? The devil didn't tempt Jesus before his public ministry!

As believers, God's calling is often not for us to serve those who fit the perfect model (James 1:22). Our Lord's heart of mercy often compels us to work with people who are still "in progress"... but it's not easy. After that one bittersweet phone call, I found myself with a new hunger and desperation for God's direction. I can't say yes or no without having this decision impact my life and my family's life in the near future.

Yet in my decision-making process, I feel all kinds of urge and temptations to be acknowledged and to be relevant. I feel the temptation to zoom in on me and less on Christ and His purpose could be for my life.

Today's Psalm reminds us to ask the Lord for a clean heart and a renewed spirit so that we may be empowered to carry the Gospel's mission in our broken, messy yet beautiful and Beloved world. I hope this song by Audrey Assad will bless your Lenten journey: I Shall Not Want

Gabriella Karina

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