CONTROL OF OURSELVES

Thursday, 3rd Week of Lent              

            In yesterday’s first reading, the Book of Deuteronomy mandated respect for the Torah Law. Today’s first reading, from the prophet Jeremiah, gives us the rest of the story. Through Jeremiah, God addresses his people to tell them that in fact they had never listened to or obeyed that Torah Law. They were always in some stage or phase of rebellion against it. They had turned their backs on it. They knew God’s will but did not follow it.

            We often told that if people know what is the right thing to do, they would do it. We know this is not the case. We are not purely rational animals. Some evidence for this is found in the habit of smoking despite authoritative warnings that it is harmful to human health. Lent is not an intellectual exercise in which we try to acquire more information about the moral life. Lent is a time to learn to control our desires and let God’s Spirit transform us. (Joseph Krempa)

            Jesus in today’s parable tells the parable about the strong man able to guard his house until one stronger than he appears and enters to steal the owner’s weapon. The point being, as long as we are in control of ourselves, the power of evil is weak. When our will and minds weaken through our assimilation of attitudes and practices that are not Christian, we surrender the most valuable weapons we have.

            The struggle of Lent is not simply against the devil and the forces of evil. It is also the struggle with parts of ourselves that have not yet been sanctified by Christ, or parts of ourselves that we have ‘surrendered’ – allowing the evil one to control them. It could be our mind which is caught up with worldly preoccupations. It could be our heart which is inhabited by inordinate and lustful desires. It could be our speech which is controlled by untruthfulness, envy, and bitterness.

            Again, let this Lenten season be a time for us to learn to control our desires – not be controlled by them – and let the Holy Spirit transform us. Let us allow Christ to sanctify every part of ourselves, every fiber of our being.

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