The folly of Lenten defensiveness.
Jesus: "The truth will set you free."
My Heart: "Are you saying I'm not free? How dare you! Why aren't you more grateful for what I do? I work hard every day. I've never been busier than I am now. I go to Mass every Sunday. I support my church and a number of charities. I obey the commandments and go to Confession every year before Christmas and Easter. Why do you imply I'm not free? Do you like trying to make me feel guilty? I know it is the fifth week of Lent. And, I have given up sweets and beer and ice cream. I think I've done pretty well."
Jesus: "I'm not trying to make you feel guilty. I'm just offering you a gift. The truth I offer you is nothing more than an insight into who you are and who I am for you. And what I promise is that this truth will set you free: free from what you don't even realize enslaves you, freer to be my disciple with more of your heart, freer to love the people around you with complete self-sacrificing love because you've experienced that from me. And, Lent is a precious time to prepare to celebrate my self-sacrificing love for you in the celebrations next week."
My Heart: "I don't think it's fair to say I'm 'enslaved' to anything. There are a lot of people out there who are a lot worse than me. I think I'm doing pretty well. Okay, all of us could do more, but I just don't have the time. It seems that if I try to pray more I just get distracted and my mind wanders. But, like I said, I think I'm doing pretty well. I will get into Easter and I'll be grateful for your love and I will try to do my best to share it."
Jesus: "Please don't be defensive. I don't want to take away anything but the things that make you unhappy. You know you have some self-defeating patterns. You've developed some bad habits. People in your life tell you all the time. It is difficult for you to see where your priorities are out of balance. I want to help you. You can't really know how much I can help you until you realize how much you need help. If you can't turn to me and ask for the freedom I can give you, nothing will change. And, you'll face the same, tired busyness after Easter, with the same defended heart. Instead of giving up the things you've been giving up, why don't you try to go to bed a half an hour earlier each night and get up a half an hour earlier. In the quiet of the morning, in this last week of Lent, just open your heart before me, and consciously ask me for the grace to be free. I'll help you look at the areas of unfreedom in your life now. End each time of reflection in my presence by simply giving thanks. You will begin to see the truth and feel the freedom. And, when you celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation this weekend or next week, it'll be deeper than ever before."
My Heart: "Thank you, Lord. I'm sorry for my defensiveness. I realize how 'touchy' I am about change. I feel so pushed to my limits, I don't think about the fact that I'm not really happy. When you remind me that you are offering me a greater happiness, a greater balance in my life, and when you tell me what others are already telling me in so many ways, it all rings 'true.' Thank you. I want to salvage this Lent, in this last week. I now trust, that with your grace, I can. And, the gift of a little more humility you've given me today, helps a lot. I'll ask. I'll be there. And I know you will be, too."
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