“Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted. (Luke 2:34)
In meditating on Christ, we see many of His signs of contradiction: God who is All became nothing. The Infinite chose to be finite. Rich became poor. First became last. Giving is receiving. To Reign is to serve. Strength is in weakness. Power is wielded in meekness . . . just to name a few.
God, in Christ, reveals that what appears to the world is not actually what is in reality: surrendering brings victory, being nailed to the cross is freedom, death means life.
So how can we imitate Christ in a culture that promotes the opposite of His life and message, where might makes right, power is in wealth and putting ourselves first promises happiness? How can we refrain from the lure to be cynical, judgmental and depressed when we are not mighty, not wealthy and never seem to get ahead?
Lent offers us a great way in its 40-day call to watch, pray and fast.
Watch! Be on the look-out for all the many ways in a day we are tempted to sin.
Pray! The second you are tempted, call out to God for help, “Come Holy Spirit, now!”
Fast! Deny what tempts you by making no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14) and opening room for God to act so that . . . .
When tempted to pride, choose to be humble.
When tempted to greed, give.
When lust attracts, practice chastity.
When anger rises, douse it in patience.
When tempted to indulge, abstain instead.
When envy enters, push it away with kindness.
When sloth creeps in, persevere with diligence.
Be consistently grateful, constantly praising and ceaselessly proclaiming, “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me!” (Philippians 4:13)
Easter will come and perhaps you will not be mighty, wealthy or first, but certainly more humble, generous, pure, patient, prudent, kind and energetic.