In this parable, I hear Jesus asking us to do the hard work of engaging (humbly, wholeheartedly) in human relationships—with brothers, yes, and also sisters, parents, children, friends, co-workers, partners. Be in right relationship with your people, he says. Show up, stay open, ask forgiveness: and then come and make an offering.

One of my first reactions is to shrug off this invitation to do the work of being in relationship as a mere suggestion. It would be easier to take the shortcut — to go right to silence and prayer, ask forgiveness from God, feel beloved and reassured.

Instead, God pushes me back towards earth first… where things are messy, where feelings are hurt, where misunderstandings take place, where all manner of communication styles and personality types must be navigated. This Lent, from whom do I need to ask forgiveness? For whom do I need to show up?

—Catherine Ruffing Drotleff servs as the Director of Development for the Ignatian Spirituality Project.