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Abandoning the Desires of Our Former Ignorance


”Sin is too stupid to see beyond itself.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

An Eskimo approached a Priest one day with a question. He asked the Priest “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?”The Priest quickly and confidently replied: “No, not if you did not know.” Without missing a beat the Eskimo shot back “Then why did you tell me?” In today’s 1st Reading (1 Peter 1:10-16), Peter is urging those in his midst to avoid the way of the Eskimo and to step up to the responsibility that comes with their newfound Spirit of Christ as he calls it.

“Live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” the Rock of our Church implores them. “Like obedient children,” he goes on to say, “do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, Be holy because I am holy.

For those of you still looking for a divine keynote to serve as your underlying theme for this Lenten Season, I think you may have just found it:

Be holy.

Be uncommon. Be set apart. Be life giving in matters pertaining to your own soul and to every soul you encounter. Rid yourself of that which is detrimental while increasing that which is beneficial. Lent is a time to work on those imperfections that are causing a rupture between you and God. Those things that keep you from experiencing the fullness and richness of this relationship. What it is meant to be.

Saint John Paul II gives us arguably the most succinct and poignant definition of sin. He would say that “Sin is the failure to live freedom excellently.” Sure, sinful actions and non-actions are an affront to God, but we cannot do anything to “hurt” God. When we sin, we sabotage ourselves and hurt those in our midst, the fellow members of Christ’s Mystical Body whom we are called to lift up, not destroy

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When we sin, we aren’t free and we certainly aren’t living excellently. Mortal sin jeopardizes the very dwelling of God within our souls. Venial sins disfigures us too, pushing us further away from God and further away from the people we are called to be.

“What’s in it for us?” This is Peter’s question in today’s Gospel (Mark 10:28-31) after reminding Jesus that he and the others gave up everything to follow Him. This was one of Saint Peter’s more endearing qualities. He always had the courage to ask the questions that others wanted to but seldom did. The answer of course is eternal life in the Heavenly Kingdom, the only thing that truly matters. But as we find ourselves on the threshold of Lent, perhaps there is one question we should periodically ponder over the course of the next 40 days:

What do you want God to do for you during this Lenten Season?

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