“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” (C.S. Lewis)
One of the biggest mistakes that we can make in our lives is to become comfortable. While this attitude is common among atheists and those with little faith in God, it is a BIG problem for believers as well. The fact that we are Christians doesn’t stop us from retreating into our comfort zones and transforming the Lord and His teachings to fit our own personal needs. In fact, it’s astonishing how often “our God” is willing to overlook and even condone the sins we commit each day.
We are blessed that the Church gives us the season of Lent to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). It is a time to begin anew, to be “cleansed from our idols” (Ezekiel 36:25). Rather than focusing on what makes us comfortable, we are urged to focus on what makes us uncomfortable. About what should we be uncomfortable? For starters, let’s look at the fact that OUR SINS are responsible for Jesus suffering and dying on the cross (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 598). How is it then that we have become so comfortable in ignoring this fact? The main reason is that we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the effect our sins. Every time we sin, we not only hurt God but we hurt the entire Church. Since we are all connected as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, my sins have an effect on every member of the Church.
OK, Gary…what about me? I’m a good person and go to church every week. I try to lead a good life. I haven’t committed any sins lately. Am I off the hook? Let’s look at how Saint John answers that question in the pages of the Bible:
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 8-9)
The good news is that, even though we are sinners, THERE IS HOPE! Jesus is standing by, waiting to forgive our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In order to obtain that forgiveness, however, we first need to acknowledge that we have sinned. We should pray every day for the grace to see our sins AS GOD SEES THEM. Then, we can repent and seek out the Lord’s pardon for the damage we have done.
In his Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius of Loyola suggests that we imagine Christ present before us on the cross. While looking at His battered and bloody body, tortured so that we can be redeemed from our sins, he proposes that we ask ourselves 3 questions:
“What have I done for Christ?”
“What am I doing for Christ?”
“What ought I to do for Christ?”
If we think about these questions long and hard enough, it’s likely that we’ll become uncomfortable…and that’s good. Because becoming uncomfortable about being comfortable is what Lent (and our Catholic Faith) is all about.