| By Pete Burak

Seeking Lenten transformation

Every parent knows the euphoric feeling of watching their kids playing peacefully and joyfully together, only to have it suddenly switch to the agony of the playtime spiraling into fighting, accusations and chaos. In those moments, our role becomes judge, jury, counselor and, occasionally, medic, all while trying to help these beautiful little souls own their mistakes, forgive their siblings and move forward amicably. Nearly every time, I find myself saying something like this: “I know your brother took the dinosaur, but that doesn’t mean you can hit him!” It takes time for kids to develop the maturity to understand their own need for growth before pointing out the deficiencies in others, but it’s amazing how often we adults fall into the same trap.

Jesus put it this way in Matthew 7:3,5: “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye … You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” The transformation we long to see in society, the Church and within our families begins with us. I’ve heard it said that “hurt people hurt people,” but the inverse is also true, that “healed people heal people.” Our evangelizing efforts must flow from an intimate, transforming, restoring and life-giving relationship with Jesus. We cannot change the world if we don’t allow ourselves to be changed first.

Supposedly, when asked, “What’s wrong with the world?” insightful Catholic author G.K. Chesterton replied, “I am.” His answer wasn’t born of self-condemnation or loathing, but humble recognition of his own desperate need of a Savior. This Lent is a God-given opportunity to start, continue or restart the transformation Jesus desires for us. A simple three-step prayer could be repeated throughout this penitential season.

Lord, show me the “logs in my eyes” that need to be removed;

Please forgive me for all the times I’ve ignored or held on to those things;

Release in me a greater outpouring of your Holy Spirit to transform my heart.

Maturing as a disciple includes deeper recognition of our capacity to sin and taking responsibility for ways we haven’t cooperated with God’s grace. It’s allowing Jesus to be even more the center of our lives so we can authentically offer him to those around us. This Lent, try not to take anyone’s dinosaur toy, and instead ask Jesus to make you more like him.

Pete Burak is the director of i.d.9:16, the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. He has a master’s degree in theology and is a frequent speaker on evangelization and discipleship.

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