Last week we heard a small portion of St. Paul’s letter the Philippians that really struck me, and I thought I’d recap and expand on a portion of my homily. If you were at St. Rose last weekend, this will not be new. In this portion of the letter, St. Paul is writing with tears of sadness in his eyes because some Christians have become enemies of the cross of Christ. He then describes these enemies of the cross and lists some of their attributes.
And one thing he says about them is that their God is their stomach. One thing this means is that their highest priority in life is to provide for their own comfort and pleasure, and this is completely contrary to the cross of Christ in which Christ lays down his life for others. Rather than selfishly filling himself up, Christ emptied himself.
The God of our stomach is a false God, and it is a very harsh and demanding God. When our stomach is our God, we can never really be satisfied with comfort and pleasure. Even if our bellies are full temporarily, they will eventually begin craving food again. When money is our God and we rely on wealth for security, there really is no amount of wealth that can satisfy us. We will always need more. The same can be said of other pleasures, like sex. When sex is our God, there is no amount of sex that will be sufficient.
During Lent we have an opportunity to battle against these false God’s with the support of the entire Church. We battle against these false Gods which are harsh and demanding, so that the God of Mercy can have a central place in our life. During Lent we defeat the Gods who are never satisfied so that the true God, who loved us while we were still sinners, can reign over our lives. We defeat the Gods who demand so much from us up so we can worship the God who gives his life for us.
We do this by offering sacrifices. We sacrifice food to defeat the God of our stomachs. We give to the poor to defeat the God of our wallet. We might even sacrifice television or the internet in order to defeat the tendency to be lazy. Whatever you offer as a sacrifice, it is important that it is aimed at defeating a false God.
Earlier I asked you to consider sacrificing some of your time to devote to prayer and study instead of your usual Lenten sacrifice. This is because I worry that time has become a harsh and demanding God. Many are oppressed by the fear of missing out. Many people are oppressed by the pressure to do activities and to be present at certain events. That is why I suggested that you sacrifice your time. It isn’t to be another burden, but to give you an opportunity to say no to these burdens. It is an opportunity to let God free you from the demands of your schedule.
So, one last time, I urge you to sacrifice some of your time to devote to God in prayer and to studying our faith. There are so many good resources on Formed.org. You can access them by using the parish access code FTFWEZ. If you are married, I suggest “Beloved,” which is our marriage prep and marriage enrichment program. If you are not married and would rather watch , “Catholicism,” or “Symbolon,” you may do so. But if you feel the burden of a busy schedule, please do this for yourself, and let God set you free.