Called to live a life of discipleship
Ash Wednesday Year B (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18)
February 14, 2018
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
LENT should not be a season of sterile mourning over an irredeemable past characterized by sin and failure. Rather, it should be a time for honest self-evaluation and discernment, a time for prayer, and a time for action.
This Lent will necessarily include a reflection on the futility of an aimless life and of a life of sin. It will also include a sincere meditation on the sufferings which Jesus endured because of the sins of mankind, which include our sins. But our basic orientation must be a positive one: a yearning for a fuller life of faith, hope, and love, expressed in different forms of service to God and neighbor.
If we find out that our life is to some extent dis-oriented, we have to re-orient it by redirecting it to God, without uncertainties and without delays. We are expected to turn away from the dark paths of spiritual death or ailment, and to start walking the highway of a virtuous life. In short, a life of vibrant and fruitful DISCIPLESHIP.
Lent, therefore, is a call to both repentance and commitment. Probably, for most of us, our “conversion” will be just a matter of calling a halt to a life of lukewarmness, half-heartedness, or indifference to religious and moral values. But it will not be enough to focus our attention on these shortcomings and seek to eliminate them from our life. We are also expected to commit ourselves to doing good as much as we can, and with joy-filled enthusiasm.
Lent has a dynamic character, an upward orientation. Therefore, it is a call to change for the better, but also to aim high and soar higher. It is like an invitation to join a pilgrimage to the sacred shrine of God’s intimacy. It is like an Exodus: our personal “rising” from the marshes of mediocrity and the lack of spiritual alertness, and to march forward toward the promised land of the freedom of God’s children.
Such an Exodus/Pilgrimage will necessarily entail a “break away.” It will demand self-denial, not for its own sake, but for the sake of the greater good: the holiness which we intend to attain.
God does not so much delight in our sorrow, not even in our tears over our past sins, Rather, He delights in our regained correct disposition and consequent actions. He delights in the efforts we make to remain faithful to our commitment to Him, and in our refusal to revert to the sinful situation of the past. Such are demands of a life of discipleship – a life characterized by the constant effort to follow in the footsteps of the Divine Master.
Having this in mind, we shall proceed in our Lenten pilgrimage, moving resolutely toward Easter, our final goal and greatest aspiration. If we are faithful to such an ideal, we shall be given the grace of experiencing, already now, a foretaste of our “personal Easter” – a joyous reflection and fruit of the Resurrection of Christ.