Author’s Note: The Life Giving Faith Article published for the March 1, 2019 Issue of the Catholic Commentator is misprinted. Here is the submission to begin Lent!
The Liturgical Season changes from Ordinary Time to Lent. The next Sunday Mass Readings over the next two week offer a challenge to the faithful to “hold on to the word of life.” [Phil 2:16]
The Heart at Work
What is in your heart? What does your heart tell you? If what is in one’s heart comes out of their mouth, then what does one need to fill their heart so to speak words which gives life? Our words disclose our minds. What we fill our minds with will come out in our conversations. The Reading from the Book of Sirach [27:4-7] offers a powerful invitation to listen to another before expressing approval. If we fill our hearts with God, we speak of God. If we fill our hearts with sin, we speak sin.
Sin is choosing something else in place of God and not according to His will. [Morgan, Barbara. Echoing the Mystery. Lumen Ecclesiae, 2018.] St Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians [15:54-58] explains the “sting of sin is death.” The wound resulted from sin creates death at the moment of entry. This wound, if left open and vulnerable will result in the death of the wounded. However, “thanks to God, through Jesus Christ, death has no victory.” Jesus, who “destroyed death and restored life”, gives us victory over sin. So we are called to be “firm, steadfast and fully devoted to the work of God” in order to be filled with that which is life giving in order to profess the same.
Splinters, Beams and Fruit
St. Luke Gospel, Chapter 6, we hear Jesus telling another parable to His followers. He questions, “Can a blind person guide a blind person.” We know the obvious answer is ‘not without harm.’ Building upon this foundation, Jesus challenges us to rid ourselves of what blinds us before we attempt to lead others. Sin causes one to be an ineffective spiritual guide. For example, if we tell someone not gossip, then turn around and gossip, then we are a hypocrite. What can we do to remove the “beam” of gossip blocking our vision? Once removed we become good fruit; life giving to help another with their splinter. Jesus goes reiterates, from good comes good; from evil comes evil. We ask, “Is what is in my heart and coming from my mouth good, or not so good? What can I do to fill myself with good and avoid evil?” Well, lucky us! Lent is here, the most important season of the year. We have 40 days to work on this.
From Darkness to Light
We begin Lent with Moses. Chapter 26 in the Book of Deuteronomy begins with Moses giving thanks for God for all He has done for the people. Out of Egypt God led them from slavery to freedom. Moses tells them to offer back to God in humility and praise what He gave them when they were in trouble. We remember as Psalm 91 sings, “Be with me Lord, when I am in trouble.” God is with us in times of trouble. Every step of our lives God is with us, as He was with the Israelites. Our trust in God is of the upmost importance as we strive to follow His will. God created us for relationship with Him and gave us freedom so that we could love Him. [Morgan, Barbara. Echoing the Mystery. Lumen Ecclesiae, 2018.] When we sin, we lack trust in God, refuse communion with God, and go in the darkness of death.
Temptation is Real
Temptation lures us to what is impermissible. Then we listen to the suggestions of evil, succumb to the attraction and commit the sin. Temptation is real. We look to Jesus, who was tempted yet resisted. Bishop Robert Barron gave a Homily of Luke 4: 1-13. In it, he states, “We journey with Jesus into the desert, and with him, we confront the three basic temptations: sensual pleasure, power, and glory. Only when we set aside our obsessions with these three things can we be free to serve the Lord. Lent is a time to come back to base camp and rehearse the fundamentals of faith. Who is God? Who am I? What is the point of my life? Where am I going? Toward heaven or away from it? Lent is a desert time, with no distractions. A time to follow the Spirit of God into the desert. It is a time to prayer, to strip away from all the diversion and look inward. Confront temptations. Be not afraid.”