Lent is a Time for Learning

The division that Christ brought into the Jewish community of his time is sometimes startling, especially because Jesus’ teachings exhort us to be peacemakers, meek and humble of heart. The strife Jesus caused reminds us that Christianity, while it brings a kind of unity which goes beyond the natural, can also cause great division. 

The build up to the arrest of Jesus has been taking place in the daily Mass readings the past few days. In the Gospels, the tension is rising as we see some of the Jewish leaders taking umbrage at the things that Jesus said and did. In today’s Gospel reading, they argue amongst themselves concerning Jesus. They have trouble reconciling cultural Judaism with His hard sayings and His radical claims. If the religious leaders in this story had a true understanding of the Old Testament and what to look for in the Messiah, they would not have argued about who Jesus was.

Modern day Catholics sometimes experience this same kind of division because we disagree about who Christ is and what he teaches. The fact that we live in a society that is often at odds with our beliefs makes us even more conflicted and confused. 

Recently, I was helping to prepare a 2nd grade class for First Reconciliation. One girl was amazed to learn that what society calls right and wrong does not always match up with God’s definition of right and wrong. There are many adult Catholics who are also unaware of the discrepancy. There is, for example, a general consensus  that cheating another person in business is wrong, but how many people still believe that “marriage” between couples of the same sex is wrong? Those who want to preserve the traditional meaning of marriage are now persecuted, but Catholics can easily fall into the trap of believing the way the world around them believes as well.

So how can we know the teachings of Christ, that we might know what is truly right and wrong and stop arguing amongst ourselves? The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a good tool to learn what the Church has taught since the time of Christ. 

If we are unsure what our Church teaches and why, we should try to find out. There are plenty of good resources to help us, and Lent is the perfect time to learn more about our faith in order to stand as a unified Church living in Christ’s love. 

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

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