18th February, 2018February 18, 2018
Tuesday of the First Week of LentFebruary 20, 2018
Ps 19:8-10, 15 (with John 6:63b)
Making a good examination of conscience
In today’s Gospel story, Jesus warns us how eternally important it is to be a “sheep” instead of a “goat”. To grow in holiness this Lent, we need to take an honest look at the goatiness that we still have within us.
Probably all of us reading this (and writing it; yeah me, too) have two feet — a goat’s foot that’s straying off to the left side of Jesus, and a sheep’s foot that wants to stand on his right side. This makes us rather wobbly. The Sacrament of Reconciliation gets us balanced again. It brings out the fullness of our sheepness.
To make a good examination of conscience and get rid of our goatiness, we can use the Ten Commandments (today’s first reading). “Since they express man’s fundamental duties toward God and towards his neighbor, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 2072).
When we look into the heart of each law to identify our sins, our honesty gives us the joyful experience of entering into God’s mercy. He does not ask us to live a holy life without giving us the ability — through graces received from the Holy Spirit — to resist sin. “What God commands he makes possible by grace,” notes paragraph 2083 of the Catechism.
Though God’s laws might sometimes seem to limit our fun and our freedom, they were given to us for our benefit. “The gift of the Commandments is the gift of God himself” (para. 2059). Our obedience plants our feet firmly in the kingdom of God — in his love, in his help, in his healing, etc.
Any time we disobey God, we make our lives more difficult because we are turning away from love: “Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it” (para. 1850).