To turn to God– the purpose of Lent– we have to turn first to the gifts God gives us, according to St. Gregory of Nazianzen, in the reading we have for today. Gifts we have now mirror darkly what God prepares for us finally, so turn first to the world you live in.
God’s blessings are there. “… Look at the beauty of the sky, the sun in its course, the circle of the moon, the countless stars with the harmony and order that is theirs, like the music of a harp. Who has blessed you with rain, with the produce of the fields, with different kind of foods, with houses, with laws, with states, with human life and culture, with friendship and the easy familiarity of family?
Begin Lent by counting the ways you have been blessed, the saint says, not by focusing narrowly on yourself.
Take it all in–sun and moon, stars of heaven, the house you live in, the foods you eat, the streets you walk, the country you belong to, the arts you enjoy, your friends and family. Turn to them again and see them as blessings from God.
Don’t ignore them, or misuse them, or hoard them . Thank God for them and share them with others.
“To all earth’s creatures he has given the broad earth, the springs, the rivers, the forests. He has given the air to the birds, and the waters to those who live in the water. He has given abundantly to all the basic needs of life, not as a private possession, nor restricted by law, not divided by boundaries, but common to all, amply and in rich measure.”
Not a bad vision to strive for, is it? For a 5th century bishop, surprisingly suited for our interdependent world today.
God has given us a world to share.