World events reveal dangers of selfishness

| March 2, 2011 | 0 Comments

In countries across the Middle East, huge crowds of people — including large numbers of young adults — continue to gather in squares and streets demanding a voice in how their lives are governed and how they are treated.

They are tired of dictators using their power to violate human rights. They are finished with corrupt leaders, who have siphoned off their countries’ wealth and live in luxury while the vast majority of citizens remain in poverty. And they are demanding respect for their lives and God-given human dignity.

In his message for Lent this year, Pope Benedict XVI reminds the world that selfishness ultimately destroys peace and leads people away from God. “The greed of possession,” he said, “leads to violence, exploitation and death.”

Lent, however, is meant to be a time of conversion — a time, the pope says, “to free our hearts every day from the burden of material things, from a self-centered relationship with the ‘world’ that impoverishes us and prevents us from being available and open to God and our neighbor.”

Time for introspection

While this Lent we pray for peaceful transitions to more just societies in other countries, we should also use this time in the lead up to the celebration of Easter to re-examine our own lives and what changes — large or small — we need to make to be less selfish, more generous, more “open to God and our neighbor.” It isn’t just about material possessions.

We can begin by asking ourselves:

» Do I find myself at times more concerned about things than people?

» How much money do I spend on items I don’t really need, or that I lose interest in soon after I buy them? How could I use the money instead to help other people, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable in my community?

» Do I let work, television, video games or social media dominate too much of my life? Where can I cut back so I can spend more person-to-person time with friends and family?

» What in my life distracts me from staying focused on God? What must I stop doing in order to spend more time in prayer, so I can deepen my relationship with Christ?

» What concrete commitment am I willing to make this Lent to be less self-centered, less materialistic and more open to God and neighbor?

We have been seeing in other parts of the world how selfishness and a lack of respect for human dignity take their toll, and how huge masses of people are standing up to say, “Enough!”

Lent is an opportunity for us in a different way as individuals to say, “Enough!” in our personal lives, to turn away from selfishness and to make an intentional commitment to be more generous and more prayerful.

Let’s not squander that opportunity.

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