Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil 4:8).
“What are you giving up for Lent?” Let’s begin by looking at our thoughts. What do we think about hour by hour, day by day? Are we thinking of excellence, graciousness, loveliness? What is worthy of our praise? God, of course, and the beauty of his creation, but what else? Who else? Do we praise our husband, wife, children? Do we praise our co-workers, employees, customers? Do we verbally recognize excellence and loveliness, and graciousness when we see it?
Does it really matter who wins the Super Bowl, or an Oscar. Do we know the saints as well as we know athletes and actors/actresses? Do we admire people because of appearance, wealth, position or for their character? Do we care about our friends and neighbors, or only about what they can do for us? Do we love our enemies? What about those terrorists, radical extremists, drug addicts, criminals, or the un-vaccinated?
Jesus came teach us what the kingdom of God is about. The heart of the commandments was and is deeper than the don’ts. They are all about caring for the neighbor we harm with our greed and envy and desire. Greed and envy and desire are all about me, not them. Statements such as, “It’s not fair,” have nothing to do with love and a lot to do with sin.
The Kingdom of God is not “humanly” fair. We don’t all have to work the same number of hours to receive the same pay from God. We can spend all our gifts and come home in tatters, but we will be given a feast and a robe and welcome. We can’t earn our way, it is a gift.
Maybe what we need to “give up for Lent” is our old way of thinking and get down on our knees begging forgiveness for all those negative, hurtful thoughts, for all the times we didn’t recognize the effort of others. Let us pray for forgiveness, let us humble ourselves in confession, let us stop the old way of thinking and begin anew. In the Kingdom of God, those who ask are forgiven, even after a lifetime of sin. He waits for us. He died for us. Let’s finally accept His gift of salvation.