Having finished eating breakfast at a conference several years ago, I got up to take my tray to the cleanup area. Suddenly I dropped the tray on the floor… big crash, plates and food strewn around … a real mess. As I knelt down to begin cleaning it up, a good friend immediately was down at my side …”Dave, let me help you”. I was so relieved and grateful; it reminded me of how the Lord is always there to help us clean up our messes.
Lent is a time to get a thorough “spiritual exam”. How is my spiritual health ? How am I doing ? Like other types of exams, we need to get tested, asked questions. We need to allow the doctor to look us over, study us, and come up with his opinion. How is “ole Dave” doing …. Hmmmmm.
I find the various readings from mass and the liturgy of the hours are very helpful in finding out some of these answers. Let’s take a look at some of the probing questions and statements from yesterday, March 1st ….. “fasten your seat belt and stick out your tongue”:
- “pride sets subtle snares …. whenever we imagine that we are in control of life…our own or someone else’s, we have fallen prey to the ancient whisper in the garden…you shall be like gods.”(Introduction to Psalm 49, page 31)
- “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted”. (Mt. 23:12)
- “For no man can buy his own ransom , or pay a price to God for his life. The ransom of the soul is beyond him. He cannot buy life without end, nor avoid coming to the grave. He knows that wise men and fools must both perish and leave their wealth to others.”(Ps. 49:2-13)
- “arrogance is odious to the Lord…pride is the reservoir of sin…. the root of the proud God plucks up.” (Sirach 10:7-16)
- “deliver us Lord from the lure of self-sufficiency.” (Intercessions,p.33)
- “Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord…if you are willing and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; but if you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you.” (Is. 1:10,16-20)
- “ do not follow the examples of the Pharisees, for they preach but do not practice…all their works are performed to be seen… they love the place of honor at banquets….” (Mt. 23:1-12)
I found those readings were helpful as an examination of conscience … a checklist to enable the “doctor” to come up with a diagnosis. I have to admit that I didn’t “ace the exam”. I cringed as I saw some descriptions of pride and self-sufficiency, along with the classic “ not practicing what you preach”. Nevertheless, I was encouraged by the merciful promise from Isaiah..” Come now, let us set things right”.
The Lord is always there for us. If we’ve made a mess of things, he’s always there to help us clean up. So, it’s okay if our doctor’s spiritual report has some problems. Jesus, like my good friend at the conference, is there to help us clean up the mess… “to help us set things right”. And that is very good news.