Life is about balance. This is not only what I remind myself as often as I possibly can, but it is what I offer seminarians and those discerning: that everything we do, we must seek to do in balance. Especially for those who minister to others and find themselves sharing or even imparting (but it should be more about sharing) personal wisdom and experience of one’s Christian life – we need to be striving for balance. That means balance in all things. If a seminarian is praying all the time; not exercising, not socializing with other seminarians or friends inside and outside of the seminary, not resting enough or not working hard enough on his studies – that’s not finding balance. If he’s doing any one or more than one of these things and neglecting anything else in his life – again, a lacking in balance and he’s not going to find in his life and through his vocation, what he searches for, what God desires for him. And he has to work harder. Having an appropriate perspective though, would mean that he has enough of a sense that his faculty members, his brothers and sisters in Christ…and most especially his Vocation Director are on the same journey and quest, and not necessarily ahead of him in any way!
Balance eludes many of us, but the reality we must open our eyes to is that what makes Christians different is that we don’t give up and we don’t accept that “what we have failed to do” is in any way a defeat and that we do not displease God. I am no more an expert on God than anyone else, BUT what I feel I can say knowing the Lord is that what would disappoint God is if and when any of us give up trying to please Him, trying to find that balance in all things that are the ingredients of a well-lived life for the Lord and for others.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of how and when to fast and how and when to celebrate. He imparts His Divine Wisdom to us of living a balanced life. We are not a Holy Church of Penance exclusively or of Celebration exclusively. We are both and. We are both a People of the Cross and Resurrection. Sometimes we can lean more on living our lives as a penance, suffering a punishment perhaps than the true gift that our life is, no matter our circumstances. Sometimes we can lean too much on living our lives in the moment, for only the good things, the pleasure and be rather oblivious to the fact that we are a “work in progress” in need of God’s mercy, love, forgiveness and embrace. In need of it, and needing to extend it to others.
On this holy Lenten day, let us embrace both our moments of fasting, and our moments of rejoicing celebrating the Lord who loves us, and may we never give up striving for the balance God desires for us day by day.