Forty years ago, at age eighteen, I went to a prayer meeting just to see an old friend from high school who had been involved in drugs.
It was my first-ever time at a prayer meeting. In fact, I didn’t even know what a prayer meeting was. But as I sat in the back of the room and listened to everyone singing songs of praise, God touched me in a dramatic and powerful way. Despite being raised in a Catholic family, attending a Catholic school, going to Mass a few times a week, and even being an altar boy, I simply did not know that Jesus was a real person.
It never dawned on me that I could approach Jesus as a person. My faith was more about being good, trying not to go to hell, and asking God to help me realize my dream of becoming a professional golfer. My day-to-day disposition was centered almost completely on myself. I found meaning in winning golf tournaments, getting good grades, and being happy.
But that Thursday night forty years ago brought new meaning to my life. I met Jesus personally, and the encounter filled me with a love that I had never known before. This love was different from my parents’ love—and my parents were very loving people. There was a power in Jesus’ love that was new to me. Somehow, I sensed that Jesus, the Savior and Master of the universe, wanted to have a relationship with someone as small as me. From that day on, while I continued to play on the college golf team, I simply lost my desire to be a professional golfer. Instead, I wanted to give back to Jesus for all he had done for me.
What Is the Meaning of Life? Lent is a good time to stand back and reflect on our lives. It’s a time to carve out extra time each day to draw closer to Jesus as we prepare to celebrate the miracle of the resurrection.
So as we begin this season of Lent, let’s go ahead and ask a deeper question: “What is the meaning of life?” The world is filled with so many different answers to this question: Meaning is found in success, in fun, in family, in money, or in charity. While some of these suggestions hit closer to the truth than others, none of them gives us the full answer. For as good as it may be to have success, comfort, lots of money, or a close-knit family, only God can fill our deepest needs. Only he can show us the truest meaning of our lives.
St. Augustine once said: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (Confessions, I, 1). He made this statement based on his own irrepressible longings and unspeakable yearnings for peace and for meaning in his life. What he could not find on his own—and he searched far and wide—he found in someone far greater than himself. Like St. Augustine, we can find the answers as well, but they will come only as we encounter Jesus personally and are filled with his boundless love. May God bless all of us this Lent.