Prisoners of Moral Mediocrity
This was the commentary added to the readings by Daily Gospel Online, a service I use to get the daily readings emailed to me, for Ash Wednesday. Now that the first burst of Lenten “enthusiasm” (for want of a better word) has worn off, I think it is a timely reminder for me and for all of us:
Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6: 1-2). Indeed in the Christian vision of life every moment must be favorable and every day must be a day of salvation but the Church’s Liturgy speaks of this in a very special way in the Season of Lent. This is the appeal that the austere rite of the imposition of ashes addresses to us…: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel”…
The appeal to conversion lays bare and denounces the facile superficiality that all too often marks our lives. To repent [or convert] is to change direction in the journey of life: not, however, by means of a small adjustment, but with a true and proper about turn. Conversion means swimming against the tide, where the “tide” is the superficial lifestyle, inconsistent and deceptive, that often sweeps us along, overwhelms us and makes us slaves to evil or at any rate prisoners of moral mediocrity.
With conversion, on the other hand, we are aiming for the high standard of Christian living, we entrust ourselves to the living and personal Gospel which is Jesus Christ. He is our final goal and the profound meaning of conversion, he is the path on which all are called to walk through life, letting themselves be illumined by his light and sustained by his power which moves our steps. In this way conversion expresses his most splendid and fascinating Face: it is not a mere moral decision that rectifies our conduct in life, but rather a choice of faith that wholly involves us in close communion with Jesus as a real and living Person… Repentance is the total “yes” of those who consign their whole life to the Gospel responding freely to Christ who first offers himself to humankind as the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14,6), as the only One who sets us free and saves us. This is the precise meaning of the first words with which, according to the Evangelist Mark, Jesus begins preaching the “Gospel of God”: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1: 15). —Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience 17/02/2010. (emphasis added)