Audio Available!

Audio Available!
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Saturday, February 13, 2016

On Confessing our Wounds...


17th Century Christian philosopher Blaise Paschal: "I have realized that all of man’s misfortune comes from one thing, which is not knowing how to sit quietly in a room."  An interesting thought to ponder, and in many ways I think this very true.  But nowadays we would have to add a few caveats: "all of man’s misfortune comes from one thing, which is not knowing how to sit quietly in a room... without a telephone, without a TV, without an iPad, without a Kindle, without even a book or anything else to distract us.  As I think about what that really means, I bet you would find that most people in this country couldn't handle it.  I know it would be hard for me, but I hope I would be able to get used to it after fidgeting for about two hours.  People become afraid of silence when they aren't used to it.

The reason we can fear this silent solitude is because it is really hard, and perhaps the hardest thing of all, to face yourself, to reflect on who you are, where you've been, what you've done, and say I am weak, wounded, imperfect, sinful.

We live in a world of "I'm okay, you're okay," where we receive awards, accolades, and praises from each other (whether we know each other or not) and even from television commercials ("you deserve it!").  So it is only in the desert, when we shut all that stuff out and come face to face with ourself, that we can see, "I'm not okay, and you're not okay.  But... that's okay!"  And why is that okay?  Because we don't need to be perfect.  Or at least not being so by our own doing.  Life isn't about being invincible, perfectly-polished, and without fault.  Real life is about having a Savior, about how Jesus (not us) is working to perfect us and heal us.  If we have "Rediscovered Jesus," as in the book we all received for Christmas, then we have also rediscovered that it is okay to be in need of Him, to be broken without Him, to be saved only through Him.

When we are alone to face ourselves, we see ourselves as they truly are, and are at the same time slowly set free from our slavery to sinful habits.  Jesus is challenged by the Devil after 40 days in the desert, praying, fasting, but the temptations that the Devil thrusts at Him are now much less powerful.  When His body is its weakest, then Jesus relied more totally on His Father and the words of Sacred Scripture (he uses the Bible in all three refutations of temptation, a great lesson for us).

The Core of the Devil's attack is also his own primary fault: Pride.  Whether it is with the bodily pleasures that bread represents, or the euphoria we get from power, or the testing of God, all three suggestions put the Ego at the center: it's all about me, alone, isolated, above others.  There is no sense of personal weakness, nor a need for relationship, and certainly not dependency on God.  The first reading from Deuteronomy provides a perfect antidote to these temptations: Worship of God.  Offering Him your first fruits says, "I love God more than the good things He gives me," while at the same time saying "I need God."  It is an act of humility, of dependence (not IN-dependence).  It is humility, the opposite of Pride.

However, because our brokenness, we never fully overcome these temptations toward pride and toward all sin.  Concupiscence remains, just like it states at the end of the Gospel that the Devil left Jesus only "for a time."  He would return, ultimately in the Garden of Gethsemani and during His Passion.  So we too must keep watch, never giving up.  That is why we do Lent every year, and should remember the call to vigilance year-round.  And the Lord is always with us to help us, just as Christ was never alone.  Here in the Church, we find strength in numbers.  We fast together, we abstain from meat on Fridays together, we worship in Mass together.  Thank God for each other, and above all, thank Him for the healing we find in Jesus our Savior.

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