Life is full of choices. Every action we take and decision we make is ultimately a statement of our individual values and belief system. Every choice we make can either help or hinder our journey with Christ. In other words, the choices we make reflect who we are and what we stand for; or, as St. Thomas Aquinas once said, “The things that we love tell us what we are.”
Perhaps that is why Lent is so important. It gives us a chance to slow down, stop, and take a look at what we are really living our lives for. It is a time for us to examine how we are doing in our walk with Christ and whether we are more interested in gaining the whole world or in taking up our cross and following Him.
For those of us who are Christians, there was one defining moment in life that gave each of us a compass to guide our decision-making processes: our baptism. We can talk about our baptism not only as the sacrament that washes away sin, but also as initiation into the Christian family with whom we journey as pilgrim people. It is through our baptism that we enter into the community of people oriented toward the Kingdom of God.
It is in this community that we hear God’s word proclaimed and reflect on the life and mission of Jesus and his disciples. It is in this community that we gather to break bread, to seek healing and reconciliation, and to pursue justice. And it is in this community that we are challenged and supported to choose a life reflective of God’s love and to learn what it means “to take up your cross and follow me”. Our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving for Lent should ultimately be life giving and lead us closer to Christ and our Christian community. Our Lenten practices should help us to dust off our compasses and see in which direction we are heading.
Are our choices leading us down a life-giving path of Christ-like prosperity, or are they leading us toward a path that will consume our lives in a way that we gain the world and lose ourselves? Today’s readings are ultimately a challenge for each and every one of us to check our compasses to make sure we have chosen the life-giving path and have not become lost. In this journey of Lent take the time to check your compass: where are you today?
– Tyler Wessman served in Honduras as a Passionist Volunteer in 2007-2008. He is currently studying for a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) at the School of Theology and Ministry, Boston College.