Monday of Lent 3, March 25, 2019
“Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins. His mercy endures for ever.”
This week we examine how our baptismal life is lived out in the intersection of a healthy love of self and love of our neighbor.
Our self-indulgent appetites and ways,
|and our exploitation of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.
American consumerism seems to be built upon the assumption that we want what we want, when we want it, and we don’t want to wait or think this hunger through. When our desires for self-gratification or for things beyond our needs keeps others from having what they need, our self-indulgent appetites and ways end up feeding into the exploitation of others.
Another way of speaking of self-indulgence is lack of self-control. Advertisements tempt our self-control, whether it’s a commercial for that snack food that you really don’t need or the car that may never be within your budget. The world of commerce wants us to hear that splurging is good for the economy and will make us feel better. We have a world of products and media at our fingertips, especially in our electronic age, but at what cost to our neighbor? When we choose to consume without regard for our actual needs and the needs of our neighbors, we run the risk of disrespecting the dignity of others.
The exploitation of others often is fed by another American consumer “virtue” of buying more for less. Sweat shops overseas are not the only way in which people are exploited. When materials used in construction are mined or harvested without due regard for the dignity of the workers, the workers are exploited. When food is grown and harvested by workers who are not treated with the respect due to them as those in whom the image of God resides, the workers are exploited. But it’s not just the workers who are exploited in this system. When manufacturers take short cuts or use inferior materials and charge higher prices in order to make larger profits, the consumer is exploited.
Living into our call to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself” (Baptismal covenant, BCP 305) calls us to practice self-control. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23); as we seek to live more fully into our baptism, we can ask God to help us be satisfied with what we need rather than what we want
In what areas of your life are you more easily tempted to act impulsively?
Almighty God, whose loving hand hath given us all that we possess: Grant us grace that we may honor thee with our substance, and, remembering the account which we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of thy bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(38. For the Right Use of God’s Gifts, BCP, 827)