Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lenten practices of giving up pleasures are good reminders that the purpose of life is not pleasure

"Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life..." -- Pope Benedict XVI

Scripture Text: (PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11)
(R. (John 6:68c) Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

The "work" of Lent is to discover where and in what concrete ways I'm not cooperating - where and when I'm resisting the gift that God is giving me in Jesus. When I don't want to honor our God, or when I am aggressive or covetous (desiring what is not mine or what is not good for me), then I'm out of balance and I can be quite closed to the love God wants to give me, in the form of new and everlasting life.

Lent is for freedom - freedom to make my heart like his. It is about freedom to give my life away. It is the process of practicing habits of thinking about the needs of others, before going after my needs first.

So, at the end of this forty day journey, the goal is not how many sacrifices I made, but how free I have become. We'll know this tree by its fruit. Who in my family is sensing that I'm less angry or selfish? Who senses I'm softer and more compassionate? Who would say that I'm seeming to be more generous and self-sacrificing? Ultimately, how have I grown in compassion for the poor and those on the margins of society? How have I thought about being their advocate in helping dismantle the unjust social structures which bind them in poverty and despair? What is different in my behavior, and shows how I've cooperated with grace? What is going to last?

What am I doing with the remaining weeks of Lent?

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