First Sunday of Lent
March 5, 2017
There is a BIG difference between “excuses” and “reasons.” For one thing, we can learn, improve, and make progress when we search for and finally discover the reason that something has happened…or hasn’t happened. Excuses usually do not carry the kind of information that leads to learning, improving, and progressing. They simply brush things away. Excuses often prevent progress.
Reasons, at least valid reasons, are based on fact. They are truth. And so, there is only one valid reason for anything. Since excuses are concocted, based on partial truths, if that, they can go on…and on…and on. Rather than searching for truth, the spinner of excuses looks for ways to avoid accountability, quite often attempting to deflect blame from oneself. When someone reaches for an excuse rather than a reason, they are thwarting the possibility of changing things for the better.
Not only are excuses inherently dishonest, but there is an element of immaturity about them. It takes maturity to choose accountability over denial and avoidance. Moreover, the childlike tendency to excuse things away means that the same mistakes will be repeated over and over and over again.
And there we have the essence of ORIGINAL SIN!
In their immaturity, BOTH of the disobedient first parents turned to excuses rather than valid reasons when responding to God. We often refer to the ORIGINAL SIN as “the fall from grace.” I wonder if things might have been different had they given mature, honest, and candid reasons for their cosmic mistake? Had they simply said: God, I was greedy, arrogant, ambitious, foolish, and weak….and I am so sorry…well, then, we might be talking about a “slip” and not a “fall.” Because of that fatal day in the Garden, all humanity suffers from the same spiritual and emotional immaturity that makes excuses seem preferable to candid reasons. As a result, we continue to fall rather than walk in righteousness before God. Fortunately, because of Jesus, after a fall, contrition, forgiveness, and grace enable us to get back up and start moving again.
With the greatest of purpose, The Holy Spirit led Jesus from the waters of Baptism directly into the desert. Faced with the same kinds of false and deceptive promises as the first parents: SATISFACTION…MATERIAL THINGS…POWER…Jesus proved, once and for all, that TRUTH always prevails. And so, on this First Sunday of Lent, we might consider refreshing ourselves at the Baptismal font of our parish church, and then walking with confidence directly into the desert to face off against those things about us that make us less than God created us to be. If we want to “give up” something truly meaningful this Lent, why not try giving up “excuses.”
In Baptism, we have been given the graces we need to overpower the effects of the original sin. While we might very well stumble, there is no need for us to “fall from grace.” But the first temptation we need to resist is the tendency to make excuses! If we are to use this Lenten Season to learn, improve, and make progress, CHOOSE TRUTH!