Burning Our Arrogance and Pride
Lent – Ash Wednesday
As we begin this serious period of LENT, it’s important to begin with the reminder that we were created in the image and likeness of God: *each of us were created as a “good” person.*
Evil is not something we often talk about except in the context that of someone else: “he is evil.” In Kenya, the illuminati movement is gaining a foothold in many of our schools: it is basically devil worshipers tempting people with money to do evil things. And desperately poor young people are being betrayed. Some are rescued, some go crazy, and some die, while many innocent people are hurt, killed or suffer.
Our society may not talk about it, but we are afraid of “evil”. If you don’t believe me, why are there so many TV shows and movies about vampires and “the Devil”, and how we long for some hero will come along and destroy the “evil”.
Evil is a reality in the lives of most of us: Evil is not so much about a force “over there”, as a force within us. Whenever we decide that my need for “things”, or love, is more important than another person’s feelings, dignity or well-being, then I am giving evil – you can call it Satan – a place to live.
We allow evil to grow in us through sin. We don’t usually want to admit our sins. But the longer we go on denying our sins of selfishness and mistreatment of other people, the more powerful will this presence of evil be in our lives.
The really Evil people we see in our society, and recently we have seen that some of them are even priests or Bishops, did not wake up one morning and decide to be Evil. Evil grows over time like a cancer.
So, this serious season of Lent is an opportunity to put the brakes on the ability of evil to grow in us.
*The ashes firstly symbolise humility:* and each of us who choose to receive it today are saying publically to each member of our community: I’m sorry for my sins, I’m sorry for my arrogance, I’m sorry for my lack of concern for you.
*Then, our actions of prayer:* empower us to know that we have a hero in our lives who is stronger than the evil around us: _it is God, especially in the person of Jesus Christ._
*Our actions of fasting:* build in us the gift of gratitude for what we usually have, which empowers us to be concerned for others who have less.
And, finally, *our giving of “alms”:* is a concrete proof to our community, and God, that we are truly sorry for any suffering we have caused: _both directly to them and indirectly to others._ An example of indirect suffering is that we, as a rich country, cause suffering for poorer countries through climate change.
I encourage each of us to truly allow this symbol of humility – the ashes – to help change our outlook on others and thereby transform our communities into places where we feel more loved and welcome.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI