HOS 6: 1-6
PS 51: 3-4, 18-19, 20-21AB
LK 18: 9-14
I believe one of the greatest and most challenging themes of Lent is the practice of humility. In a setting such as a university where achievement is paramount, humility becomes a seemingly useless trait. As college students, we are constantly taught how to sell ourselves to countless potential network connections, employers, and graduate schools. Those who experience the most “success” are those who are the most marketable, forward, and ambitious. While drive and motivation are important qualities to have as budding professionals, I believe they have little place in our faith lives, especially during Lent. As believers, it is important to always drive to become closer to God, and motivate ourselves to live more deeply with him. Even the first reading says, “Let us strive to know the Lord”. However, Hosea chapter 6 speaks to God’s desire for our hearts to be contrite, and humble. The goal-oriented drive we use in our scholastic lives has little use towards the goal of humility. The way I understand God’s grace and love is that we do not need to earn or deserve it, because it is already unconditionally available to us. The purpose of Lent is to make our hearts as ready as possible to accept the love poured out for us in the salvation of the cross. Humility is one of the best tools to prepare our hearts for Lent.
The promises we make during Lent are meant to remove obstacles that separate us from living closely with God, such as bad habits or distractions. The way I relate these obstacles to the practice of humility is visualizing how each obstacle we remove allows us to come closer and closer to sitting at the feet of Jesus on the cross, which is the most humbling position I can think of. At the foot of the cross, believers are completely reliant on the mercy of Christ. There is no room for reliance on our own abilities and strengths, only humility.
I love the parable of the tax collector because it is the classic underdog/David-and-Goliath victory for the little man. Those who have failed, those who are weak, can find comfort that all they need is to kneel down, accept their failures, and ask for mercy to receive love. I count myself among the weak and the failed, so I celebrate this gospel as an invitation and promise that mercy will be there when I am humble enough to ask sincerely! I am terrible at fasting, and stingy with what little money I have, but I know how to ask for forgiveness. So despite the enormous challenge of trading our college brains for humble hearts, believers like us can find refuge in the gospel of the tax collector. Especially during Lent, we can walk closer and closer to the foot of the Cross and shape our hearts into hearts God can enter into: humble ones.
Lizzie Corcoran is a sophomore studying Public Health.