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. 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, sins are somewhat more contained…a white lie here and there…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 called us to live. In the recesses of our hearts we know we’ve been tempted…we’ve stood on the precipice of surrender to our baser desires…enticed by money, recognition, or power to take advantage of situations or people, neglect of our responsibilities towards others, or treat ourselves or 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, violation of human rights,vengeance and war feebly masked as “just war”, turning a blind eye to the tens of millions of displaced persons, refusal to aid those in the midst of famine and the list goes on. 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 theReign 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 self-centeredness 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 better disciple of Jesus Christ? What acts of almsgiving, prayer and fasting can I commit to this Lent that will help build up the Reign of God, to be a living sign of hope in the midst of a suffering and wounded world?