Monday, March 17, 2014

“Do it badly; do it slowly; do it fearfully; do it any way you have to, but do it.”

“We shall be judged according to our works – this is why we are exhorted to do good works. The Bible assuredly knows nothing of those qualms about good works, by which we only try to excuse ourselves and justify our evil works.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Gospel text: (LK 6:36-38)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

More often than not, many people perceive Lent as a time to set aside their selfish desires and make room for God. For Lent, people “give up” things, and during those forty days, they devote every fiber of their being to avoiding those things – they refrain from “doing”.

Today’s Gospel brings to life a slightly different focus, which involves two fundamental verbs: “to do” and “to be”. In this passage, Jesus advises his disciples to stop judging and condemning, but foremost, he emphasizes providing mercy and giving to others. He advises action – “to do”.

Now, making room for God is more than just setting aside a vacant little spot in your heart for the Lord; it means welcoming him with open arms and showering him with hospitality. You can’t accomplish that by just doing, although that’s a logical first step. You welcome God by becoming and being hospitable, by being a person of goodness, virtue, and love.

“We are what we repeatedly do,” proclaimed Aristotle. According his philosophy, Aristotle believed that one could become more virtuous by doing more virtuous acts, like developing a habit. Then the habit just becomes a part of you. That’s how doing transforms into being, and it’s amazing because psychological learning theories say, “Yes, it works!”

I’ve often heard that it takes 21 days to make a habit out of something. Then again, it could be longer. But Lent is forty days, and you’ve got 27 days left! So take some time to give a try – turn your “Lenten To-Do” list into a “Lenten To-Be” list!

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