The University of St. Thomas Office of Mission sponsors daily Lent reflections, each written by different members of the University community.
This morning’s reflection was written by Professor Bernard Brady, chair of our Theology Department, and the first thing Bernie admits in his post is that he doesn’t like Lent. He writes “The truth is that I’d rather eat than fast, daydream than pray, and keep my money in my wallet than give it away. But it is more than that. Lent asks me to do things I would rather not do — like, look at my conscience, reflect on my actions, and examine my attitudes. Lent “invites” me to look at the real me. Lent makes me uncomfortable.”
Even worse, Professor Brady writes, while doing all of these things that make him uncomfortable, “Lent tells me, directly and boldly, that I am not the point of all of this. Lent tells me that Lent is not about me!” Referring to today’s first Mass reading from Isaiah, where God instructs his people to cease evil and do good, Bernie writes
Our spiritual lesson for the day is this: Purifying myself is not about me. It is about, to cite Francis again, mercy. Isaiah’s second message is prior to his first. God shows mercy to us, indeed, “the name of God is mercy.” Thus the logic of Francis: The more we are aware of our sins, the more we are aware of God’s mercy — the more we can meet the wounded on our way with mercy. In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers another take on, “It’s not about me.” The Pharisees in the reading think they are the greatest; they act like they are the greatest; they expect others to treat them like they are the greatest. Jesus, sounding illogical, says firmly, “The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
In a world where our tendency is to think it is always about me, it is good to be reminded that Lent is not about me and my sacrifices, but about God’s love and mercy.
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