Saturday of the First Week of Lent
Lent, a time to choose.
Today’s readings remind us of the fact that God has graciously revealed His precepts to us in two important ways. He has done this firstly through the prophets, and then more perfectly through Himself in His Son. Our response to the offering of holiness ought to be one of thanksgiving, but we may quickly realize that this is a difficult task, especially considering our beginnings in original sin and how we may have lived. We might even despair after hearing two of our Lord’s most difficult commands in today’s Gospel: “Love your enemies” and “be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect”. However, the Saints teach us that we can and must ask God’s help. Again, we find this provided for us in today’s reading of the Psalms.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes!
In his commentary on the psalms, St. Augustine points out that this is a heartfelt plea to God Himself, acknowledging that we must ask God’s help to follow His laws, else we shall surely fail. It is not by our own power that we conform to God’s commandments, but by Christ’s grace given to us by His Spirit.
Furthermore, the message of following God’s precepts is message of some urgency, and the verses recited before the Gospel emphasize this. “Now is a very acceptable time”. This Gospel verse calls us to action. We cannot forget that each day is a day where we choose between good and evil. Now is the time to choose. Lent makes this point even more evident. We must ask ourselves “how are our Lenten sacrifices helping us to become perfect and love our enemies?” If we find that they are not designed for this purpose, we ought to make them so. Lent is not a period of temporary exertion that ends after Easter, but a special opportunity in which the whole community participates in order to become more holy beyond these forty days.
Our efforts are of course not without reward. After the gift of the law we are given the promise of the gift of eternal life, or being raised “in praise and renown and glory”. We can and must work for this now by humbly asking for God’s help in following His precepts, walking in His ways, and becoming perfect just as He is perfect.
Catholic Studies Student.