This is the Sunday before the beginning of Lent. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of 40 days of fasting and repentance. It is a time to devote ourselves more fully to prayer; to better contemplate the word of God, and to better reflect on our call to be disciples of Christ.
The first reading today tells us that what we say reveals the way we think. Our thoughts eventually come out in speech. The book of Sirach, a book of wisdom, tells us that one ’s speech discloses the bent of our mind. It is like a window to our hearts. Our speech opens up for all to see, what we are really thinking, and so God calls us to not only watch what we say but also to watch the way we think. A hypocrite is one who says one thing and does another, but for the Christian, a hypocrite is one who does something one way and thinks the opposite.
In asking the disciples, can a blind person guide a blind person, Jesus is telling us that we have an obligation to better our lives; to better the way we are thinking, so that we may lead others to be more faithful disciples of Christ. If we are to lead others back to following Christ, particularly in the Catholic Church, we must not only be able to tell others about the teachings of the church, but also to explain them, to understand the reasons behind the teachings and why we believe them- not just to say “well this is what they told me.” We have to dig deeper.
If all people hear from us is criticism of others, then it becomes more difficult to proclaim the gospel. We are called to speak out of the goodness of our hearts. If our hearts are loving towards others, then our speech will reflect that. If we only speak evil of others, then we cannot say with any credibility that we have goodness in our heart.
Lent is a time to examine first our hearts, then our speech, or even to say that we should listen to our speech so that we can determine what is really in our hearts. We first have to listen to what we say. This is a time for being honest with God and honest with ourselves.
Repentance, which means turning away from ourselves and turning toward God is not a bad word. It is the mark of a Christian to continue to improve, to respect more and more our need for self-improvement, and self-evaluation; to deepen our relationship with Jesus, means that we come to learn how every moment of our lives is connected to Christ. It is a time to take what we think and what we say, and to measure it against what Jesus says and does.
Repentance brings great freedom, a sigh of relief, a refreshment of our beings, and a relaxation of the tensions that build within us. Through repentance, we can find peace, and through peace, we can learn to love.