This morning, as I read about the Israelites in the desert, I thought about how God mightily delivered them from captivity in Egypt, and, despite this, how they longed to return to Egypt because of the creature comforts provided for them there. They were willing to put back on the shackles of slavery in order to satiate their longing for leeks and onions, and their longing to eat meat again.
When I was younger I used to think the ancient Israelites were crazy, stupid, or both. They saw the power and might of God first hand, and still they doubted; still they sinned. At this point in my life, I better understand that I, like them, still long to live the life of sin. I still long to live a life of slavery to the flesh, a life of filling the flesh with its every wish and whim.
However, as a Christian I am called to give up my slavery to things of the world. I am called live in the freedom provided by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. I am called to a virtuous life whereby I use my natural abilities to curb my appetite for anything that keeps me from living the life of faith. I am called to live a life in the Spirit whereby I allow Him to supernaturalize my natural talents. I allow him to be my strength in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9.
What a better time than Lent to spend some time training our bodies to long for heavenly things, and to learn to rely on the graces of the season as a way of bolstering our personal efforts. Maybe with His help we can enter into the season of Easter living more fully the freedom and fullness of life promised by Christ. Maybe we can more acutely learn that choosing freedom is ultimately more fulfilling than the short term pleasure associated with giving into all our desires. Maybe, just maybe, we can learn to enjoy freedom, even if it means living in the desert. Maybe come Easter we will have taken substantial steps towards appreciating our hard earned freedom, and stop grumbling at God because his ways are not our ways. Mk 8:33.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit asking him to help you identify your “leeks and onions.” Which worldly desires and pursuits keep you from living more fully in the freedom won for you by Jesus Christ? What commitments are you willing to make to God to put these sinful behaviors behind you, and to more fully embrace the life of faith. Make sure you pray for the awareness of the indwelling Holy Spirit whose job it is to move us towards doing the right things. Ez 36:27. Without him our efforts will only fall short. True victory comes in understanding our littleness and in learning to rely on his guidance to help us choose virtue over vice.