Lent is here again. I will eat less, give up alcohol and go for daily mass. It is a good time for my body to detox. I can also do with losing 5 kilos in weight. Am I camouflaging my own desires by calling them my Lenten sacrifices, using the spirit of Lent to drive my own agenda? Over time these Lenten sacrifices of mine have become almost a ritual. I am able to switch in and out of Lenten mode without much of a thought.
“Thought”. Do ‘I’ spend time thinking about where these practices can lead me spiritually to? It is not wrong to take care of one’s physical self. Come the end of Lent I will be 5 kilos lighter but I need to ask where does that leave me spiritually? Pondering this, I brought to a more conscious level what I really need to succeed. I need discipline. Discipline will stop me eating more than I need, it will say, ”No, not this time” to alcohol and will drag me out of bed for morning mass.
Discipline empties my head of all the noise. It provokes me to think beyond the ritual act. It leaves me alone to ponder, to come face to face with my spiritual self. Discipline is like a yeast. It is catalytic to grow my spiritual self. I will spend time this Lent to reflect on the temptations in my life.
I am fortunate enough to indulge in the excesses of life. I would say that I can live a rather fat and buttered life enjoying my food and wine. It is easy without discipline to just carry on like that day after day. Some of us may indulge in handbags and shoes, and most would indulge in Facebook and Netflix. Resources and time, gifts to us to be put into better use. Without thought, without discipline, gifts becomes excesses. “Then the devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Scripture says: Man does not live on bread alone.’” Maybe I have too many loaves.
When I was growing up, I was encouraged to get out of my shell of self-consciousness to be aware of the people around me. Today it is no longer a shell but a fortress. I hide behind it in ‘self-defense’ guarding my every right and possession, desiring the best for myself not trusting that the world can share. I live the same advice “to be aware of the people around me” except that it is now twisted negatively. “Then leading him to a height, the devil showed him in a moment of time all the kingdoms of the world and said to him, ‘I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms’”. Maybe I am here serving other gods.
When we have everything in life, we can indulge without a moment of thought. Excesses lead us into thinking that God is no longer relevant in our life. When we have everything we need, why do we need God? When we want to luxuriate in the kingdom of our own self, we don’t need a God to tell us that others matter. We lose our spiritual discipline and put on the arrogance that God will be there when we need him. “The devil said to him ‘throw yourself down from here, for scripture says: He will put his angels in charge of you to guard you, and again: They will hold you up on their hands in case you hurt your foot against a stone.’ But Jesus answered him, ‘It has been said: You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Maybe I am assuming that he will be there to forgive me by my death bed, so I keep doing what I like?
Lent is a good time to remind ourselves to be aware of the noise in our life. In this noise there are temptations but these can become opportunities. Discipline heighten our awareness of going astray. Discipline can be the yeast we need to grow and expand on our spiritual life.
1st Sunday of Lent