Lent and The Road To Glory
In the middle of this month, we transition from Ordinary Time to the Season of Lent. This is a time to remember that throughout all human history, nobody like Jesus has ever walked the earth. We know the remarkable stories of his divine power manifested clearly, powerfully, and even routinely throughout his ministry. These stories serve as a reminder to why the upcoming 40 days are a very special opportunity to grow in our relationship with God and deepen our commitment to a way of life, rooted in our baptism.
As Christians, we all have a mission. We know this very clearly today and understand that Christ’s mission is ours as well. We speak, through our actions, on behalf of Christ and what the world will know of him, it will know because of us.
However, as the Lenten season begins, we are also advised not to act like the hypocrites. They are those who act piously for the sake of the crowds and their own exaltation. Instead, when you pray, fast, or gives alms, you are to do so in secret so that your Father “who sees in secret will repay you.” Jesus asks for sincere actions because anything else is useless.
As T.S. Eliot observes in Murder in the Cathedral: “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right thing for the wrong reasons.” If you want to please God, you should perform your religious acts only for God.
The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right thing for the wrong reasons.
– Murder in the Cathedral, T.S. Eliot
Spiritual growth results less from external changes and more from internal changes that take place while doing good works. Doing them is important, but the reason we do them is even more important. Our humility gives rise to others’ humility, so first we must remove any plank from our own eye.
Lent is an extraordinary opportunity to reflect upon our patterns, to pray more deeply, to experience sorrow for what we’ve done and failed to do, and to be generous to those in need. In the Gospel on the First Sunday of Lent, we hear the story of Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the desert. Jesus knows that the road to glory involves being faithful to God and to God’s people. While this can involve suffering and loss, it also leads to a crown of glory.
During this holy season of Lent, let us all follow the example of Christ, being faithful to God’s invitation to fast, pray, and care for those in need, trusting that our reward will always be found in God.