Patrick Walsh

“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Lent is often a time for cleaning out our hearts to make space for God. This Lent, I am excited and inspired by the second part of that promise: seeing God.

Usually this time of year, I focus on cleaning out the things I know probably take up space that God could occupy in my life. I reevaluate my relationship with pizza, beer and melted cheese in all its forms. But this year, I’m also asking myself: “What does it mean to see God? And how can I be looking for him?”

One of the most amazing aspects of Jesus for me is that while he came to offer us his eternal life and love, he was also consistently and specifically concerned with meeting the physical and temporal needs of the people around him, especially the people deemed unworthy and “un-valuable.” It is in this explicit focus on healing eyes, bones, flesh and hunger that he meets his children where they are, and reveals his infinite love and divinity.

During this season of preparation, God may be calling us to eat less cheese and drink less beer, not only for self- discipline, but so we can have more room for the things Jesus would have us be concerned about. This self-denial can help us create clean hearts that can “see God.” This year, my new prayer is to see and hear people more like he would.

Whenever I have to get my kids to calm down in the car, I turn on a cassette tape (yes, they still exist) of Mr. Rogers singing comforting and shockingly wise songs to my children. The chorus of one of those songs is “stop, look and listen.” I think this is a special part of Jesus’ invitation: to stop, look and listen to people in the way he would have, to try to see with his eyes, to love with his heart and hear with his ears. Our friends, spouses, children, parents and siblings are all around us, and God is within them, waiting for us.

(Read more about Patrick Walsh’s work at Martha’s Choice food pantry and emergency food market.)

Opportunities to help people who are disregarded and in great need are all around us. This is a great time of year to consider how you might be called to see God in other people. It’s easy to gloss over Scriptures that remind us of this call because we hear them so often. But God’s promise to reveal himself to us, to allow us to see him in his people, is a gift much deeper than whatever we imagined when we first heard that Scripture.

This Lent, consider volunteering somewhere you might be of service to someone in need. During this season of repentance, we try to become ready for God, but God is always ready for us. And he’s constantly speaking and trying to reveal himself to us, if only we stop look and listen.

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Patrick Walsh is the manager of Martha’s Choice, a choice food pantry and emergency food market located at archdiocesan Catholic Social Services’ Montgomery County Family Service Center.