February 25, 2020
by Mary Lee Brock
Creighton University's Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordianry Time
Lectionary: 342

James 4:1-10
Psalms 55:7-8, 9-10A, 10B-11A, 23
Mark 9:30-37

Praying Ordinary Time

Praying Lent

A Mardi Gras Prayer...

Cooking Lent
Recipes for Ash Wednesday,
all the Fridays of Lent and for Good Friday

Mardi Gras.  Carnival.  Fat Tuesday.  Nothing exceeds like excess.  Today indulging on treats and joining in high-spirited celebrations become expected behavior as tomorrow is the beginning of Lent.  People ask “what are you giving up for Lent?”  And common responses may include plans to abstain from chocolate, coffee, wine or desserts.  While having a shared experience in community to engage in our spiritual practices can be helpful, today’s readings invite us to go much deeper.

The first line in the reading from James immediately framed what will be my Lenten journey Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?  While wars among nations are devastating and heart wrenching, I am challenged to explore the patterns of “wars” in my daily life.  How could I possibly know what can bring me closer to God until I examine the motivation of my “wars.”

James makes a compelling case that our focus cannot be on the secular world and also on God when he tells us whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Of course we need to live in the world, but James asks us to examine where we place our priorities. How do we spend our time, attention and money?  Are our actions for the greater glory of God or to glorify our own image?

Jesus in today’s gospel states that anyone who wishes to be first shall be the last of all and shall be a servant to all.  And James gives us instructions on how we can refocus our lives by inviting us to humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.  James reminds us that we are not on this journey alone and God invites us to a deeper relationship.

This Lenten season, I am inspired to examine my life to become aware of how my ego gets in the way of my relationship with God.  I will explore times I am seduced by gossip or negative messages on social media and challenge myself to resist having my attention pulled in those directions.  I will humbly ask for God’s forgiveness.  And I will celebrate the moments I feel the abiding love of God. 

And perhaps I will lean on the reminders provided by a Lenten fast from coffee or chocolate as these daily practices remind me of all of the constant temptations in the secular world and can support my focusing on what truly matters.  Today’s psalm is a wonderful prayer to take into Lent:  Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you.

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