Spiritual Comparison

Homily for Friday after Ash Wednesday

In today’s Gospel, we see how the disciples of John the Baptist compare their spiritual scrupulosity to the presumed lax faith practices of Jesus’ disciples. They didn’t fully understand the mission and purpose of Jesus, so they weren’t able to fully comprehend why He was instructing His disciples to not follow all of the prescribed things to a tee. Reflecting on that, the question we can all ask ourselves is: how do we do the same thing?

Sometimes, we, too, compare what we’re doing with our faith to what others are doing – this can especially happen during the Lenten season. “We see someone doing less and resent it. Or maybe we find ourselves feeling embarrassed by someone who seems to be doing more. Instead of comparing, we should really look at ourselves in the mirror and ask: “Am I doing what God wants me to do this Lent?'”1

Another aspect of today’s Gospel that we might think about is: what should our attitude be this Lent? Jesus told “the wedding guests (his disciples) that they should not mourn because the bridegroom was with them. Certainly, the bridegroom is always with us: Jesus is always present, in the Eucharist, through the Holy Spirit, in the words of the Gospel.”2 So, even if we are feeling the discomfort and the struggle of sacrificing and fasting, it can help us to remember that the Lord is with us. We are not alone in our spiritual journeys and we never will be. The Lord is constantly walking alongside us, accompanying us on that journey…even when we fall or even when we don’t follow through with our Lenten practices 100%.

We know that we are sinners. All of us here. Even though we strive to do our best and try not to fall into those areas of temptation that seemingly always come about, we still fall from time to time. There is no doubt that Evil exists and that it is constantly at work in our lives and in our world. Despite that, we can rejoice in knowing that our penitential acts this Lent counter some of the evil that exists. It is a way for us to put that evil in check, to build discipline in our own lives, and to strengthen our resolve to live as better disciples of Jesus.

So, if you find yourself already starting to compare what you’re doing with what someone else is doing this Lenten season, stop. The Evil One loves when we compare ourselves to others – especially in the realm of spiritual practices. Instead, focus on you. Focus on what the Lord is specifically inviting you to do this Lent. Don’t get discouraged if you fail. Pick yourself up and start fresh the next day. Go to confession, if need be. On the flipside of that, if you’re doing well, don’t boast about it. Instead, pray for those who are struggling. Y’all, we can’t do this spiritual life alone. We need each other. Rather than comparing ourselves to what others are doing, let’s pray for each other this Lent so that we can rejoice together at Easter.

  1. The Spirit of Lent. ePriest.
  2. The Spirit of Lent. ePriest.

Photo by Aaron Burden. Creative Commons, Unsplash.

Published by Fr. Tom Pringle

Priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando.

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