During the season of Lent, we tend to reflect a little more intently on Christ’s mission and sacrifice for us. Since He gave His life to redeem us, it seems we could easily give up even a little for Him. Though the traditional idea of giving up something for Lent has not been something I've done, my friend and cousin, Carolyn, got me thinking more deeply about the season of Lent.
Last year, as Carolyn read her “Catholic Weekly” magazine with its daily devotionals, she shared with me a Lenten focus on the Roman Catholic perspective of the “seven deadly sins.” These sins can lead us away from God and away from that close relationship we long for.
Unfortunately, I/we often exhibit the pride of self, a greed as we exclude others to serve ourselves first, jealousy in coveting that which is not ours, wrath or inappropriate anger, sloth or laziness when we could and should do something constructive, lust of a sinful nature, and gluttony or self-indulgence in so many ways. Yet, we know that each one of these sins is absolutely forgiven on confession and repentance to God; and, under His tender mercy and grace, our heart is renewed as we follow in His footsteps.
In synchrony with the above, we recall that Solomon wrote in Proverbs 6:16-19, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” Some also say there is an unpardonable sin, the blasphemy against God and His Holy Spirit.
As Jesus was performing miracles and driving out demons, the religious leaders’ unpardonable sin was in claiming Jesus’ power came from the devil rather than acknowledging He had power because He truly was the Son of God (Mark 3:28-30, Matthew 12:31-32).
If we turn away from the Spirit’s convicting promptings that what we’ve done is wrong, we may harden our heart, turn our back on God and not want to repent, willfully continuing in sin. Yet, upon conviction of our sin with confession and repentance, we can be assured of God’s welcoming arms and loving forgiveness…for nothing can separate us from the overwhelming love of God (Romans 8:34-39). May I always be convicted of my sins, confess them, and ask for forgiveness from God and those I’ve offended.
As I continued to ponder last year’s Lenten theme as mentioned by Carolyn, and the variety of themes from many churches for spiritual renewal this year, my own failings came to mind. Sadly it can be said that I/we betray our Lord’s love in many ways because we are far from perfect. Yet, as a reminder of Christ’s love for us, and living within us, there are familiar virtues we can strive for.
As the Holy Spirit leads, guides, and helps us live out our faith, we exude “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). These fruits evidence the Holy Spirit’s work within us, as God transforms us to be more like His Son (II Corinthians 3:18). Because He loved us first (I John 4:19), even in our sinfulness we can live a grateful life of holiness, bringing honor and glory and praise to God for all that He has done, for to this we were created (Revelation 4:11).
We can demonstrate our love for God and those around us with our faith and reliance, hope and trust, and charity and love as shown in I Corinthians 13, the “love chapter.” We can share this joy and peace in living out our faith in God by showing such loving kindness in our interactions with others. With courage and wisdom from the Lord, we can face those difficult painful trials. Just as God has granted mercy and grace to us, we can show the same to others, forgiving them as we’ve been forgiven, acting with moderation and self-control, with honesty and integrity in our dealings.
Against these virtues there would be no complaint as we respect others, bring glory to God, and become a beacon to point others to Christ. . . not only during Lent, but always.
Though our Lord was mocked and betrayed as He walked this earth, may we never forget the depth of all He suffered in His great love for us despite knowing our wayward steps. For it’s only thru Jesus’ shed blood that we have forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
As I prepare myself spiritually this Lenten season to focus more intently on Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, Carolyn’s words echo the thoughts of my heart that “these are the things we could all reflect on during the 40 days before Holy Easter, and maybe change our hearts and minds to reflect more of Christ’s love.”
From Betrayal to Beacon
by Linda Roorda
There is One who felt the heavy hand
The slap to the face, the mocking abuse
The glib excuses, lies begetting lies
Betrayal by friends, abandoned in need.
For there was a man who took this and more
A man who never responded in wrath,
The Son of God, who sought us in love
Who lay down His life that we might live.
The Light of this world, a rejected man
Scorned by His own and scoffed by scholars.
Still there were those who pondered His words
Words that were new and words that gave hope.
Bless those who misuse, pray for their soul
Just as our Lord, the servant of all,
Dwelt here in peace and drew us to His side
To offer us hope with redemption’s gift.
Be that beacon to a world needing hope
Bring peace and comfort with welcoming arms.
Offer your love to the soul in pain
Become a servant to meet the needs.
*Shared from my blog, Poetic Devotions.