As we begin Lent it is appropriate for us to reflect a bit on our own lives, our own desert experiences and our own temptations, our own encounters with God. Most all of us, as humans, are tempted by pride, arrogance, selfishness, anger and greed…the real question is whether or not we give in to those temptations. For some, who give in, they are led to disgraceful acts of greed and ego with catastrophic results. All we need to do is to read the headlines in the newspapers or listen to the nightly news…we know who they are and are able to judge the seriousness of their acts. For most of us, our sins are somewhat more contained…a white lie here and there…perhaps a small theft once in a while…a few carelessly chosen harsh words that wound. Most of us are basically good people, trying to live as God has calls us to live. In the recesses of our hearts we know we’ve been tempted…we’ve seen people surrender to their baser desires…enticed by money, recognition, or power to take advantage of situations or people, neglect their responsibilities towards others, or treated others with disregard and disrespect. As we reflect on our own personal sins let us not forget the structural sins of our society…greed, arrogance, pride and vengeance sometimes feebly masked as justice.
As Jesus came forth from the wilderness of the desert proclaiming the coming of the Reign of God bursting forth in the world through the preaching of the Gospel, he forever linked “the Gospel imperatives” to the Reign of God. To the extent that we live out the imperatives of Jesus; to love one another as he has loved us, to love our enemies, to actively seek to alleviate the suffering of the poor and the marginalized…to that same extent we participate in the building up of the Reign of God. Lent is meant to be a time of reflection and of action! We are called to a conversion of heart…to turn away from selfishness and sin and all that gets in the way of our living as true disciples of Jesus Christ. What can I do, or stop doing, in order to become a more faithful disciple of Jesus Christ? What acts of alms-giving, prayer and fasting can I commit to this Lent that will help build up the Reign of God in the midst of a suffering world?