As we enter this Season of Lent, we come face to face with the fundamental truth of our human life, namely that our decisions and choices always go through tests many times in our lifetime. Depending on how we really value the choices we make, we will either stick to them or simply give them up or waver about them. Just as gold is refined in fire, so our choices, especially those that have to do with the fundamental values on which our lives hinge, go through all kinds and manners of tests so that we can emerge stronger in our decisions and firmer in our choices. Untested decisions and choices have not proved their worth or value. Until then, they remain intellectual acts that seek to be concretized and proved. We are our choices and decisions, and depending on how and where those choices and decisions stand with us in our overall experience of ourselves and life in general, we will be ready and willing to defend them or surrender them to the lure of short-lived pleasures that have no regard for committed choices.
Our decisions and choices are tested so we can experience the joy of commitment, for there is no possibility of human maturity without commitment to values that exercise absolute power on the inner recesses of a person’s soul. Fundamental choices express what we believe in, what our values are, and what we are ready to give our lives to. This implies that, as long as a choice expresses our core values, we are ready to defend it, for it expresses the core of who we are. In this sense, the more a choice expresses the core self-perception, the stronger the value, and the more it can stand the temptations that come against it. And, when it happens that a person goes against his or her core values, he or she experiences serious inner conflict; the call of conscience! This conflict does not simply mean an infringement of a moral code, but more so, a betrayal of oneself at one’s core. This self-betrayal at the very extreme can lead to a sense of self-disintegration, if care is not taken. God knows there exists this possibility and leaves for us the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we not only reconcile ourselves to God, but also to ourselves and experience once again, the peace that comes from being consistent with oneself.
Therefore, temptation is not really a bad thing; it is a normal experience in human life designed to make us stronger in our commitment to be the best persons God created us to be. For this reason, Jesus was tested in many ways from the beginning to the end of His life. The core of the temptations He suffered was that He should twist His mission of being an obedient Son of God to a self-indulging populist miracle worker; a trap many so-called modern miracle workers fall into repeatedly! After the ferocious test of His acceptance (choice) of being a Suffering Servant of God, Jesus emerged victorious, filled with the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim with power and authority the Good News of God’s Kingdom of Love, inviting everyone to repent.
During this Lenten Season, learn to be more aware of those loopholes in your life through which the energy that holds your choices together is leaking. On the other hand, on a daily basis, learn to do those things that lead you to being the best person God designed you to be. It all boils down to being persons who are capable of loving and through this love, give life to many others. Pray for God’s grace to enable you to remain strong when temptations come your way. He usually is with you at each turn.