St. Mark’s Lenten Thoughts, Tuesday In The Second Week of Lent

His Holiness the Dalai Lama (left) and Michael Ramsey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, outside Lambeth Palace in London, October 25th 1973. (Photo by Roger Jackson/Central Press/Getty Images)

Lent Week Two—Tuesday

Psalm 68 Jeremiah 2:1-13 Rom. 1:16-25 John 4:43-54

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served created
things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.

The evangelist G. Campbell Morgan once said that Romans was “the most pessimistic page of literature upon which your eyes ever rested” but at the same time, “the most optimistic poem to which your ears ever listened.” Today’s brief reading seems to prove his point! The first verses speak of a wrathful God and a sinful, wicked humanity. They describe a people who have come to know God, but turned away from him; a people who claimed to be wise but in reality were foolish.

It’s all too easy to get pessimistic. It’s easy to give in to the “sinful desires of our heart,” whatever they may be: pride, envy, anger, greed, lust. When we do give in, we invite the inevitable suffering that comes with it.

Maybe the optimism can come from an unlikely source, Buddhist monks!

The Four Nobel Truths of Buddhism are that life always involves suffering, that all suffering is caused by cravings, that suffering is only ended by liberating ourselves from our cravings, and that the path to peace is the “middle way” of wisdom, meditation, and self-discipline. Good stuff!

Lent is a time to turn away from our cravings; to turn away from “created things” and focus instead on the one who created them. Maybe we can all take a cue from the Buddhist monks and seek the peace that comes from a quiet life; a life that frees us from our cravings and leads us to enlightenment.

-Kevin Payne

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