Ideally, we spent Lent trying to live differently. We “gave stuff up” or added something new, but all for the purpose of living differently and in a new way. Lent is not a time of punishment but of deep hope. It is a time for us to be reminded and to strive to remember in every part of our lives that what we have been promised is something wonderful, and that something is keeping us from taking full advantage of the splendid promise.
I was listening recently to a TED Talk by a woman named Caroline McHugh, a delightful Scottish something-or-other who said that most people live in one of two ways: with delusions of grandeur or delusions of insignificance. Both are false. But we become slaves to these delusional thoughts; lies become our masters…or, better, the Prince of Lies becomes the master and we his slaves. St. Paul asked the Romans, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey?” (Rom. 6:16)
Reading St. Paul for even five minutes, particularly his letter to the Romans, you can’t avoid language about slavery and freedom. Sin is appealing, sin is addicting, and sin enslaves. It distorts, it distracts, it vilifies. That’s why in Lent we take an intentional break from some of those we know lead us down or keep us on the road to captivity.
The Risen Christ is the agent of newness in the world. He is the one who gives us the power to live that new, different kind of life. His resurrection has made it possible to become, really, new. The world tells us that we’re stuck in our sin because we are what we do. The world doesn’t look inside people, because God forbid it should see what it destroys.
Sin is very boring. Sin is a waste of time. In a real way, it doesn’t just keep us from becoming who God created us to be, but also from becoming the person who we are ourselves ultimately desire to become. No more autopilot, no more status quo; simply: sanctity.
As you go into Holy Week, I invite you to consider how Lent was for you, and whether you are closer to getting away from the things that keep you from Him. Promise yourself this Easter that this is the time, this is the moment where you’ll step out of slavery. Promise yourself that you’ll say what needs to be said, and do what needs to be done in order for you to live life more intensely and freely.
If you’re unhappy, don’t pretend you are.
If you’re happy, don’t pretend you’re not.
If you’re struggling, don’t pretend you’re perfect.
If you’re perfect, go to therapy because you’re delusional.
Remember Paul’s words to the Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1)