Lenten Contemplations


 Day Thirteen - Monday

 So that time comes when we get caught up in the snare on our path.  We've spent so much time and energy keeping ourselves in check with our values and beliefs and in comes this moment where we make a choice - and it isn't in alignment with what we value. In essence, we fall.  We might choose because we think it's our only option, or we have a strong need, or we might be losing or missing out on something.  And so we go with our choice.  Then comes the contemplation, "Why did I do that?  What was my motivation?"   The excuses pile up with rational reasoning, but in the end, ultimately, when we answer ourselves truthfully, we realize we chose, freely.  

To be free of guilt is not why we are choosing to live correctly, but guilt is a consequence of going against our integrity.  When we care deeply enough about our reasons to maintain our values, (for some it's for another, others it's for their health, and others it's for humanity, and so forth), we feel a pain in our conscious - it upsets our logic, because we are not acting as we "normally" would.  This places us out of integrity with our commitments. 

I think of what Jesus taught when there was much argument over food and the law,

"It is not what enters one's mouth that defiles the person; but what comes
out of the mouth is what defiles one.  Then his disciples approached and
said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard
what you said?"  He said in reply, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has
not planted will be uprooted.  Let them alone; they are blind guide (of the blind).
If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit."  Then Peter said
to him in reply, "Explain [this] parable to us."  He said to them, "Are even you still
without understanding?  Do you not realize that everything that enters the mouth
passes into the stomach and is expelled into the latrine?  But the things that come
out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile.  For from the heart come
evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. 
These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile."

Matthew 5:11-20; The New American Bible

I especially like the last line, "...but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile."  As a matter of fact it makes perfect sense.  We are born into sin, hence our hands are dirty.  With dirty hands we receive salvation.  Our hands are constantly being washed, as is our soul.  It takes a lifetime, if not more to come clean, but if you are eating from the bread of life, you are cleansing yourself and with dirty hands. 

Recognizing the temptations on our path, whether they lead to indulgence, deception, theft for personal gain - this is the first step in taking the bread.  Once you have tasted, it's very difficult to maintain the dishonest, or defiling behavior and this is the cleansing of the soul.

Days 14 - 17 - Tuesday - Friday

When I am away from my usual surroundings, it can bring up challenges and help me recognize the comforts I have and take for granted.  On travels is when I find this truth to be proven.  I don't have the comforts of home when I am in a hotel room.  The room and surroundings may be spectacular, but going without those "comforts" - the overlooked, under-appreciated jewels, can make me uncomfortable -  for I am temporarily sacrificing a habit; something I didn't even know was a habit.   I try to adjust by bringing my jewels with me, but some I cannot accommodate.  

It is when we go without these comforts that we begin to understand more and more what is important.  Our appreciation for the blessings we have in our lives grows as we feel that longing for what we cherish and the gratitude for its presence in our life.  It also gives us that unique view of what we don't miss; what we didn't even think about. 

I think about the apostles in Luke, when Christ told them to travel to towns without food, to go without spare clothing and without money on their journey, but mostly, without him, their Lord,  in their physical company,

“He summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure disease, and he sent them to proclaim
the kingdom of God and to heal [the sick].  He said to them,
“Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food,
nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.  Whatever house you
enter, stay there and leave from there."

Luke 9:1-4; The New American Bible

They were instructed this because Christ knew that in each town they would enter, they would find all they needed provided to them by the Father,

He said to them, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or sack
or sandals, were you in need of anything?”  “No, nothing,” they replied.”

 Luke 22:35; The New American Bible

While this passage leads to the announcement of Christ's betrayal by one of his apostles, Judas, it carries another lesson.  They had to walk in Faith and Trust that they were safe; that they had authority; that Christ was with with them; Christ was before them; Christ was after them; to the right and to the left of them and above and below them. 

Faith, the one thing you don’t pack, you don’t itemize, you don’t have a checklist for -  it’s the one thing that can travel with you anywhere you go at any time.  It doesn’t need a suitcase, it just needs your heart, your mind, your body and soul to be transported and given outwardly.  With Faith, you can climb that mountain.  With Faith, you can achieve the impossible.  With Faith, you need nothing more but to act on faith and trust that the Fruits of your Faith will be given. 

Teaching and being the mission isn’t a process of comfortable situations.  God did not promise that all in life would go easy, everywhere, at all times.  His promise is that he will help us and guide us and provide us according to our faith,

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed [him], crying out,
“Son of David, have pity on us!”  When he entered the house, the blind men
approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?”
Yes, Lord,” they said to him.  Then he touched their eyes and said “Let it be
done for you according to your faith.”  And their eyes were opened.”

 Matthew 9:27-30; The New American Bible

For to have faith we also must believe.  Jesus never sought out those in need - rather, those who believed sought him.  He was not here to prove God’s Grace, he is God’s grace – and through his example, we too seek this Grace.  He told us to believe, taught us to have faith - he taught us how to make fishers of men.  He did not hand out a fish to man, he brought instructions on how to fish, how to be in the kingdom of God and how to ask, and receive; seek and find; knock and have it be opened unto you.  I mentioned before that that is one of my favorite teachings, it’s applications are endless and that is why I often reflect upon it’s teaching. 

We can affect the world for the better.  We can help each other.   Being without those things I treasure, I had to call upon what I treasure about them, not the things themselves.  In doing this, I found the blessing of my prayers answered - without those things.

I think when we are put into uncomfortable situations, we seek a way to find comfort, so who do we turn to?  If you don’t have a partner to discuss it with, and if you do but they don’t relate, how does one find peace within the new surroundings and the ideas that will go through our minds?

Some use objects to hold onto, to help them along the path, clinging to it with great reverence for some hope and help in times of stress.  But what if you lose the object, how then will find comfort?  The object itself has no power, it is merely a reminder.  And yet many fill their ideas around the object with great powers, not realizing that it is their prayers which carry the power.  

What does the object represent and how can an object possibly have any magic powers, except for you to focus your energies and attention toward?  The object is a material that was created by the creator and manipulated and formed by hands formed by the potter, so the object, in effect, is immaterial to the matter in hand.  If we rely upon these objects and not our inner dialogue; if we rely upon things and not the truth of our aid and assistance, where are we to find ourselves and in what condition when the object is gone?

The passage below from the Book of Wisdom relates this idea Much more eloquently than I can,

 "The Cult of Idols
But the wretched are they, with their hopes set on dead things, who have given the title of gods to human artifacts,
gold or silver, skilfully worked,

figures of animals,
or useless stone, carved by some hand long ago.

Take a woodcutter.  He fells a suitable tree,
neatly strips off the bark all over
and then with admirable skill
works the wood into an object useful in daily life.
The bits left over from his work
he uses for cooking his food, then eats his fill.
There is still a good-for-nothing bit left over,
a gnarled and knotted billet;
he takes it and whittles it with the concentration of his leisure hours,
he shapes it with the skill of experience,
he gives it human shape
or perhaps he makes it into some vile animal,
smears it with ochre, paints its surface red,
coats over all its blemishes.
He next makes a worthy home for it,
lets it into the wall, fixes it with an iron clamp.
Thus he makes sure that it will not fall down ---
being well aware that it cannot help itself,
since it is only an image, and needs to be helped.
And yet, if he wishes to pray for his goods, for his marriage, for his children,
he does not blush to harangue this lifeless thing ---
for health, he invokes what is weak,
for life, he pleads with what is dead,
for help, he goes begging to total inexperience,
for a journey, what cannot even use its feet,
for profit, an undertaking, and success in pursuing his craft,
he asks skill from something whose hands have no skill whatever."

Wisdom 13:19, (The New Jerusalem Bible)


I also love the story in Daniel 14:1-42 ;The New Jerusalem Bible - which not only covers idols, but faith, truth and trust!  A must read for a smiling heart!

And I do want to clarify here, I don't believe it's wrong or idolatrous to have art and items which remind us of the Holy Presence, I think those can be quite necessary in a world of distractions.  I do see though, that if we think it's the item bringing us solutions, we are misguided.  It is our prayers and the answers received through prayer - not the thing.  The thing is a piece of art, whether it be jewelry, pictures, sculptures and whatever else made by man to reflect upon the Lord, to remind us of our Love for the Lord and our relationship with the Lord.  They inspire us to humility, to greatness and to desire the Grace of God. It's when we give the Glory to the object and get on our knee's and pray to the picture and not the spirit that sends us into idolatry.

God Bless You!!


Beginning         <Back      Next>


Share this by email
Enter your search terms below.