Letter for the First Sunday of Lent

Fr. Rodolfo D. Vasquez

“Good and upright is the Lord, thus he shows sinners the way, He guides the humble to justice.” (Ps. 25: 8-9).
The Season of Lent is an opportune time for us to make a thorough examination of conscience. Such an examine will allow us to make a good and honest confession which I would like to recommend to all of you before Easter Sunday. Using as our guide the words of the Psalmist from this Sunday’s reading, “He guides the humble to justice”. What does “justice” mean? What does it mean to be “just” or “good and upright”? Justice corresponds to our free will actions in regards to God and our neighbor. It regulates our thoughts, speech, and actions by directing us toward giving to both God and our neighbor that which is due to them by right. St. Thomas Aquinas explains: “justice is a habit whereby a man renders to each his due.” First, he speaks of “a habit”, this means that justice is a virtue, a habitual disposition we develop with a “constant and perpetual will”, meaning that we are always disposed toward the rights of others, never seeking to violate giving another his due.
 
What is a man’s “due” or what does one “owe to another”? This is where our Christian way of living must guide us in our attitude. Without our Christian ethic, we can become cold and render justice toward our subjective judgment. In other words, we can declare that someone no longer is due right treatment because of their actions. We must remember that our Lord taught us to “love our enemy”, to “forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven times”, and “to do unto others as we would have them do unto us”. As Christians we owe to each other; love, forgiveness, honor and respect. None of us has the right to exempt ourselves by thinking that because someone has offended us, we can deny them what by right they are owed. Justice demands that as a Christian we must think, speak, and act toward another with charity and compassion. Justice requires that we must uphold honor, and respect toward each other, whether or not we think one deserves it; only God can make that assessment. This kind of thinking, speaking and acting requires an adjustment of attitude. Christians are called to hold themselves to a higher standard; the standard of love.
 
As we examine our lives, our attitudes and our conscience we must ask ourselves important questions: Have I thought of others in a demeaning, degrading or disrespectful way? Have I judged their character in a way that is unfair, without proof, or based on the words of others? Do I attempt to trick or manipulate others? When I speak do I show respect by the choice of words I use? Do I use proper language and respectful words like “thank you” and “please”? Do I lack respect toward another by using foul and curse words? When I speak of others do I show respect by honoring their reputation and their character? Do my actions toward others show that I value them and respect them?
 
Do I respect the needs of others by not abusing or wasting precious goods like food, water, and clothing? Do I realize that the gifts God has given to me are meant to be used for good, for the needs of others and for God’s honor? Do I share my gifts and my blessings with others? Do I cheat at school, at work, on my taxes or in any way? Do I steal from work, have I ever left a store with goods that I didn’t pay for either by my fault or the fault of the store? Do I lie, or deceive, or misrepresent the truth?
 
Justice is a habitual attitude of always holding ourselves to a proper and rightful way of treating others. During Lent, we ought to ask the Lord to help us by showing us the way of love and truth, humbly asking God to guide us toward justice. Our Lord demands of us that we love our neighbor. This is the Christian way, it is the way of love, the way of truth and the way of justice. It is the way to our heavenly homeland.

 

 
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