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Living Simply

Thursday, March 22, 2007
Thursday 4 of Lent

Readings: Exodus 32:7-14; Psalm 106; John 5:31-47

Part of our human condition seems to favour indulgence in things that are less than necessary. We are all guilty of things like eating too much, relaxing too much, watching too much television and the like. But what’s wrong with a little harmless indulgence? Sure we don’t need it, but isn’t life for enjoying? Jesus tells us that he came that we would have life to the full. It is our duty to enjoy life!

It would appear then that our Lenten sacrifices are the pursuit of the miserable, perhaps the inventions of sour-faced clergymen who are not content with their own misery but want to spread it around. Involving ourselves in Lenten practices might not be compatible with joyous Christianity, living life to the full.

But this would be a cruel deception. Far from being an endeavour to make us miserable, our Lenten practice seeks to liberate us from the things that we don’t need, that our being might be lifted to the things that give us most fulfilment.

The greatest joy of our Christian life is to experience God. In him, all our yearnings and desires will be at rest. But this is hidden from us in our earthly lives. Earnestly searching for our fulfilment, we indulge in the things of the world. In Lent, we might learn through our sacrifices that there are many things that we do not need.

The readings of today’s liturgy give a certain shape to this. While Moses speaks with God about the covenant, the people fashion a calf of molten metal and worship it, turning their backs on the God of their salvation. In the Gospel, Jesus rebukes the Jews for looking for the approval of each other rather than the approval of the true God. These things are not necessary. If only we could see the true beauty of the simplicity of God – that we would need nothing else but our rest in him.

It is difficult to attain to such perfection, but through our observance of Lent and our practice of self-denial, may we seek the things which sustain us.


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