What Must I Do?
One of the more familiar questions of Scripture, either directly asked or indirectly implied, is “What must I do?” It was asked of John the Baptist at the time he was baptizing the people at the Jordan River. John called for repentance. He instructed the people to share their coats with others as a simple act of charity and compassion for their neighbor. Tax collectors were directed to collect taxes honestly. Soldiers were commanded to enforce the laws properly and refrain from violence. The question was also asked of Jesus by the rich man who came to him in the dark of night, but who sadly went away when he could not commit to Jesus’ request. St. Paul ventures to ask and answer this basic question as well in speaking to his followers..
“What must I do?” is a question we all must ask ourselves. God has great plans for us. God has a goal in mind for us—to return to our Heavenly Father as a more loving and compassionate being and to be more like him. Our task is to seek out how we can fulfill our goal. Our image of God influences how we see our role in life and what we should be doing to fulfill that goal. Each of us develops an image of God based upon what we have learned through faith and what we have experienced throughout our lives. The more we know, the more God expects us to do our best and to help others to do better also. We won’t all have the same experiences. Each life on this earth is unique and each one of us will experience life a little differently. Think about your life at present. Is God simply tolerating your behavior or is God thrilled with you? What does God really want for and from you?
Perhaps this story will assist all of us in answering these questions:
During World War II a Lutheran church in Berlin was badly damaged. Almost all
of it was destroyed except for the cross and even that had been badly damaged because
the corpus on this cross had lost its arms. When the Church was repaired, the damaged
cross was hung near the entrance with a large sign underneath it that read; “I have no
arms; you are my arms.
What this short, but inspirational story emphatically reminds us is that God has called us to be his co-workers. This is not an inconvient task or a chore, but a privilege. We often use the phrase “start somewhere” referring to a time or period that we plan to begin an activity or a venture. Let us determine that “somewhere” will be the beginning of Lent this year. This is the season when we are most forcefully challenged to make significant changes in our lives that will benefit ourselves and the world around us. This is the time that we tell ourselves we should promise to discover a way to be the arms of Jesus in this world. During this time our decision for Lent cannot be whether we will walk the path leading to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but how we will walk.
We have only to look at some biographical accounts of great people like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Paul, St. Mother Theresa or St. Joseph as examples of saints who asked the question: “What am I to do?” They moved out of their comfort zone and used everything at their disposal to carry out a plan for themselves. We, too, must do the same and, therefore, make some choices. Perhaps they will not be as dramatic as those of these saints, but they will be equally important to our lives. We know that too often we sadly have found ourselves racing down the wrong path trying to answer the question “What must I do?” Following Christ is not just proposing half-hearted resolutions at the beginning of Lent or simply giving up a little something or doing a kind act here or there, as good as that might be. It is not by proudly listing more experiences or by being busier than anyone else that we can claim that we are fulfilling our goal. We cannot be running from one thing to the next, constantly surrounded by activity and noise. How will that help us to know the needs around us and to know what we must do about them? We’ve got to seriously ask ourselves: What does Christ want me to do — and then allow him to guide us. That’s what “start somewhere” means!
So, this Lent let’s slow down and perhaps in a moment of silence reflect upon what our life is about and what God is calling us to do. How does God want us to share his love in our day-to-day living? George Bernard Shaw said it well. “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live…Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch that I have got to hold on to for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible…” What must I do this Lent? Find ways to make my torch burn as brightly as possible!
Sister Lauretta Leipzig