IN JANUARY, I took part in the March for Life Rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. While I waited for my turn on stage, I warmed myself in the hospitality tent and mingled with interesting people in the backstage area. Soon after I arrived, I had been given an “all-access pass” — a piece of laminated cardboard that allowed me to enter this secure area and move about freely.
That evening after the march, as I disposed of the pass, I was struck by the words printed on it. I asked myself, “Does Jesus have an ‘all-access pass’ to every facet of my life? Or are there hidden chambers in my heart from which I’ve blocked him?” No doubt there are. Maybe you will find the same. So this Lent, why not give the Lord an “all-access pass” to your inmost self?
Easier said than done, of course. As we read in the Book of Jeremiah, “More tortuous than anything is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?” God answers the prophet’s question: “I, the LORD, explore the mind and test the heart” ( Jer 17:9-10). In the same vein, the Gospel of John notes that Jesus “did not need anyone to testify about human nature” (Jn 2:25). Christ knows us better than we know ourselves.
We do not grant Jesus access to our hearts so that he can find out what’s going on there. Rather, it is so that he can help us come to terms with ourselves. We ask him to walk with us as we peer into the unhallowed hollows of our hearts. What might they be?
‘We do not grant Jesus access to our hearts so that he can find out what’s going on there. Rather, it is so that he can help us come to terms with ourselves.’
As Knights of Columbus, we claim charity as our first principle — but charity is not limited to the good works we Knights engage in on such a massive scale. Charity also pertains to the heart. Adhering to the God who is love, we are to love as God loves. Are there hidden spaces in our hearts where we harbor anger, resentment, grudges? Recall that Jesus condemned not only outward wrath and violence but also anger of the heart (see Mt 5:21-22). Appearing to be charitable while harboring inward hatred or indifference will not do; hidden anger eventually surfaces. Therefore, this Lent, let us ask the Lord to cleanse our hearts of anger and hatred.
Consider another founding principle: unity. We profess one God in three divine persons and strive in our diversity to imitate the unity of the Trinity. We seek unity in the Order, in the Church and in wider society. Yet, while outwardly championing unity, we may find divisive attitudes and thoughts lurking in our hearts. The heart is where we hatch plots to manipulate others in order to get our own way in matters big and small. It is where we scheme to advance our pet plans, without giving sufficient thought to the common good. A heart alienated from the Lord will sow division. Lent is the time to allow Christ to cleanse our hearts of every divisive attitude.
What about fraternity? Our fraternity is rooted in God as our Father and Christ, our Redeemer, as our brother. Our bonds of fraternity as Knights flow from this profound truth. We are to be a force for solidarity in the Church, the Order and wider society. Yet, how easy it is to think we are better than others or to harbor a spirit of rivalry. Equally damaging to fraternity is indifference to the plight of brother Knights and their families and anyone else in need. It is so easy to absorb such attitudes from our “me first” culture. In this season of grace, let us allow Christ to cleanse our hearts from thoughts and feelings that undermine fraternity.
Many other sinful attitudes can lodge themselves in our hearts. If, this Lent, we invite Christ to shine the purifying light of his love into every corner of our souls, we will experience great freedom and joy when Easter Sunday dawns upon us.
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