In the first reading at Mass today, we hear the following passages from the Letter of James:
Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?
Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?
So submit yourselves to God.
Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners,
and purify your hearts, you of two minds.
Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep.
Let your laughter be turned into mourning
and your joy into dejection.
Humble yourselves before the Lord
and he will exalt you.
This is probably a very good reminder for us as we prepare for the holy season of Lent with Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday”, is a time of frivolity, of eating and drinking, of “last-minute-doing” before giving it all up the next day when we begin our repenting for Lent.
The only problem is that, for so many people, Mardi Gras simply means, “I’m doing all of this now because I have to give it up; but, only for a while.” People who enter the season of Lent always look for the end of Lent because that is the time that they can go back to their old lives and continue all the fun contained therein.
We cannot allow our passions to rule our lives.
When we enter the season of Lent, we should look forward to coming out of it as changed people. We should not look forward to going back to our old ways.
If that is the case, the season of Lent will mean nothing.
So, as you celebrate today — and that is all right, you can do so — remind yourselves that you are about to enter a very holy season that, if entered properly, will cleanse you and bring you to the other side a little more holy, a little further away from your sinfulness, a little closer to the Lord.
FAITH ACTION: As you celebrate today, you might consider those who are not as well off. Make a donation to a food pantry, volunteer some time at a food kitchen, do something to help the poor in your midst.