Sunday, Feb 14, 2016
Psalm 91:1-2, 10-15
The most frequently asked question of Catholics at this time of year is, "What are you giving up for Lent?"
Giving things up and doing extra things is definitely a big part of the Lenten season. I suppose another big question is how long will we keep firm in these intentions before totally failing at Lent.
I think one of the best reasons to give something up or do something extra in Lent is that it helps us grow in discipline. We are a culture that lets our emotions and feelings dictate our action or inaction.
Discipline can act as a balancing factor in our life. If we do what we do when we want to do it because we want to do it with no thought of self-control, we fall into the sin of gluttony or sloth. But if we can tame our passions with a little discipline, we can achieve greater heights of spiritual joy.
Strange as it may seem, there is more joy in discipline than in indulgence. One would think that giving in to temptation and enjoying the creature comforts would bring more satisfaction than denying ourselves or employing restraint, but this is not the case.
This week's Gospel makes this abundantly clear when Jesus, in the middle of a 40-day fast, is tempted by the devil to give in to the moment and indulge his emotions. Yet, in the face of such temptation, Jesus reveals the truth that standing firm brings us closer to the will of God.
The word "disciple," not coincidentally, has the same root as "discipline." A disciple is one who follows the teachings of another person. When we discipline ourselves, we allow another's teaching to guide and direct our paths. To be sure, disciplining ourselves is not easy. It takes, well, discipline.
So, when week two of Lent comes and we are tempted to abandon our resolve -- eat the piece of cake or skip that daily Mass -- let us be disciples of Jesus who disciplined himself in the desert and did not give in to temptation.
May this be our constant prayer: Jesus, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil!
This column is offered in cooperation with The North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.