Lenten Reflection Series: Giving Up Control and Being Open to God’s Mercy

Throughout the season of Lent, we’re featuring the Millennial Lenten Reflection Series, co-sponsored by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Franciscan Mission Service. Each small reflection will be written by a young person, focusing on that day’s Mass reading. You can sign up for the series here.

It is tempting to measure the health of our faith—and that of others—by what is visible. Ruled by our to-do lists, we want to check something off the list and know that we are in good standing with God. This approach is clear-cut, under our control, and fits within a busy schedule.

Jesus and the prophet Hosea have a different message to share with us: God does not want formulaic action, but instead a relationship with us. This won’t fit neatly into a time slot on the calendar, but will pervade our entire life. We are invited to turn towards God, to conversion, to the cultivation of a disposition of a heart.

The Pharisee in today’s Gospel is focused on listing for God all the good deeds he’s done, perhaps seeking affirmation. In contrast, the tax collector beseeches God for mercy and invites God’s response, opening the door to a relationship. That day, the Pharisee likely went home more confident than the tax collector, but Jesus makes clear who did the will of God.

This Lent, are we willing to set aside our desire for certainty and control, take a risk, and cultivate hearts open to deeper relationship with God?

Lara Ericson is a Master of Divinity student at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she subsequently worked for three years in the Office of Campus Ministry.