Saturday, April 11, 2020

What Did We Achieve This Lent? A Reflection

As I write this, it is Holy Saturday. Easter begins with tonight’s vigil. It’s certainly been a strange Lent. For the most part, Catholics have been unable to attend Mass or receive the Sacraments since the Second Week of Lent. It is a privation, even though it is not something unique in the history of the Church. But it is a privation that the virtue of prudence dictates. So, now that the 40 days of Lent draw to a close, we need to ask ourselves what we accomplished with this time in the Desert (cf. Matthew 4:1-11). Did we use our social isolation as a time of turning back to the Lord? (μετανοια—metanoia) or did we turn in ourselves out of boredom and self-pity?


I won’t detail how I did. I figure if I did better than you, I’ll sound like I’m boasting. If I did worse, it opens me up to derision. I’ll just say that I did some of the things I set out to do, but not all of them. It’s the kind of thing that is common among Christians because we are sinners, like everybody else. That’s not an excuse of course. But however we fell short should serve to remind us that we are constantly in need of God’s grace. And we should constantly strive to be faithful.


Understanding this, we should consider the parable of the Merciless Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). We look to God to forgive us our failings, and probably we haven’t handled our Coronavirus Lent as well as we would want. So, remembering what we want of Our Lord, we should remember to forgive others who fell short during Lent as well.


And of course we should remember that turning back to God isn’t something we only do at Lent. If we become aware of a sin after Lent is over, we should of course turn back to God once we are made aware of our failing. The Christian life is a constant turning back to God. If we think we’re saved because of what we do, or that we’re saved regardless of what we do, we’ve grossly missed the point of how we need to approach our life in God.


Someday, this quarantine will end. When it does, we’ll need to interact with this world directly, not over social media. After all of our complaining about isolation, how will we respond to this restoration? Will we respond with gratitude? Or will we take it for granted, returning to our same old bad behaviors of the past?


Let’s consider our own bad habits of the past in this regard, and pray for God to deliver us from our bad habits, while striving to cooperate with His Grace.

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