Have you ever had one of those dreams in which you are living your ideal life? Everything is just as you would have it be – you have the family you’ve always wanted, the job you’ve always wanted, the house you’ve always wanted, the friends you’ve always wanted, all the gadgets you’ve ever wanted, and you are the person you’ve always want to be. Things are going along wonderfully until suddenly you wake up and discover that none of it was true; you’re the same old self you always were.
In today’s first reading from the book of Genesis, God tells Abram that from now on his name will be Abraham and that he’ll become the father of a host of nations. Abraham, formerly childless, sees this is a dream come true. In fact, it goes beyond his wildest dreams! The change of name is symbolic of the transformation within him and the new covenant formed between himself and God. In essence, Abraham becomes a new person – the person he’s always wanted to be.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could short-cut Lent and become the person we’ve always wanted to be simply by changing our name? It would be like a dream of ours. Suddenly everything would be perfect, and so would we. Of course, we know it’s not that easy. Transformation is hard and slow work; so hard, that it takes us more than just one Lent to effect the transformation. It takes a lifetime of Lents, each one achieving another bit of progress and a couple more drops of sweat.
The point isn’t so much the amount of success but rather the amount of work we put into it. As long as we keep at it, as long as we keep moving forward toward becoming the person God wants us to be, we’re getting somewhere. This joyful determination and loving self-sacrifice we can begin to discover our “new name”. The last thing we want is to give in, wake up and find out it was all a dream.