About 60 years ago, my 3rd– and 4th-grade religion class and I were talking about Lent and preparing for Easter. I listed the various extra opportunities we had during Lent to become better acquainted with Jesus. One little third-grader who usually became very interested waved her hand wildly and said, “you mean, it’s like grace is on sale.”
In her young imagination, you could attend a Lenten program and pile up grace in the shopping cart of the soul. Skipping candy equals one grace, staying out of a fight could earn a dozen graces. Attending Sunday afternoon Stations of the Cross would earn a whole pile of graces.
Part of her concept rings true. The more effort we put into Lent, the more we learn and experience God’s abundant love made known in Jesus. But, there is no shopping cart to show for our efforts.
God is not a stingy salesman. God is generously urging us to accept the abundant love made known in Jesus the Christ. Lent is our time to reach out with open hands and hearts and accept that God loved unconditionally all the time.
We often want to earn God’s love and the idea of a shopping cart of grace appeals to us. Lent is the time to accept our own neediness and blessedness and give joyful thanks to God.