“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”
~ John Chrysostom
We are social beings. We know that we have to interact with others throughout the day. However, we often attempt to make sure that, in the midst of our interaction with others or after it is all over, we gain the upper hand. We want to be the ones who come out with the most reward.
Yet, our lives as Christians are not supposed to be ordered in such a way. Rather, we are asked to make sure that the needs of others, not ourselves, are met. We are challenged to give to all, to be kind to all, to have mercy to all. We are not to look out for our own benefit, but for the benefit of those around us.
This is something that is hard to understand and hard to put into practice. Our human nature wants us to focus on ourselves and, if necessary, ignore the needs of others. Jesus knows us and understands our human nature. He also showed us that we can rise above that nature and do what God asks. It may take sacrifice; but, we can do it.
The sacrifices that we have been making throughout this Lenten season may be wearing on us. We might find ourselves flagging in our resolution. That is why the Church gives us this “breather” today. We are celebrating Laetare Sunday. It takes its name from the Introit of the Mass for this day: Rejoice!
God does not want us to be glum. God wants us to be happy and fulfilled. Jesus has shown us that we can be happy and fulfilled even when we are making great sacrifices. The things that we have chosen to do during this season can bring us closer to God. That, in itself, is a reason to continue.
There is no reason to be glum. There is no reason to think that our sacrifices are meaningless. We rejoice in the Lord this day and ask God for the strength that is necessary to continue our Lenten resolutions. That way, we will be better prepared to celebrate the joy of the resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Let your Lenten actions bring you closer to God as you serve the needs of others. In doing so, you are serving the Lord Himself. That is at the heart of our Lenten practice. That is how we accomplish great things.
FAITH ACTION: Whether it be small or large, make time to do good for others today. You might even want to turn it into a family event.