Today’s Gospel, on the eve of Lent beginning tomorrow, is a good reminder of why we give everything up. We leave everything behind –fields, family, friends–for the sake of the gospel. The reward is eternal life. Peter may have been a bit whiny when he started this conversation with Jesus, “I have left everything and followed you….” Jesus seems to cut him off, not waiting to see where he is going with his thoughts. He wants Peter perhaps to understand what is at stake.
In the first reading there is a lovely phrase–things into which angels long to look. Perhaps that too is a clue as we celebrate Mardi Gras today and enter Lent tomorrow. When we leave everything, our perspective changes. Our eyes settle on something new, different. We catch a glimpse of what we are meant to be, of what our real purpose is, as we stand in God’s presence and look through the eyes of Jesus at our lives. Why are we here? What is our task? What have we been given to establish the reign of God here?
What do you need to leave behind this Lent? Celebrate what is in front of you today and give thanks for it. This is Mardi Gras time. This is the chance to enjoy the richness and luxury of our lives. Tomorrow we leave it behind and enter the desert for 40 days. We look at things into which angels long to look–difficult things that reveal our soul, change the course of life, and call us to something so beautiful that we can hardly breathe. Such mystery is ours if we take the risk.
What will you do this Lent? What will you leave? What will you look into? Take some time as you celebrate today to think about theses questions.