I came across the following scriptural meditation by Rev. Herbert Madinger while searching through the Lay Witness archives. It seemed a fitting mid-Lent exhortation–Lent surely being a component of the “rigorous training in advance” of which he speaks–as well as a commentary on our own times.
“Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” (Mt. 7:24-27)
The floods will roll over your life too. Heavy waves are putting you to the test today, in the new political degradation, in the domain of married life, in business practices, in the diabolical atmosphere which spreads like a poisoned miasma over an age of deadly luxury. The countless occasions of sin stand there before your very eyes. You need only stretch out your hand to touch them. They offer themselves to you: All you have to do is say yes. Simply offer no opposition, and the sins will have you by the throat.
My friend, today’s temptations are of giant proportions: The floods are rising, storm winds are blowing, and they are beating against your house. Is it strong enough to withstand the assault?
Will you be strong enough to stand fast against all the temptations to sin when they are cooing and beckoning all around you?
Do you think you will be able to avoid a complete break with God when you pay no attention to the cracks and leaks in your own house?
Do you think your well-meaning intentions will enable you to stand fast against the crashing surf of a passionate moment?
A rigorous training in advance is indispensable if you are to withstand temptation. An entire life based on the Sermon on the Mount is needed, the Lord tells us, if you are to avoid serious sin at the moment when it thrusts itself upon you.
Tell me: Do you experience any real dread of committing a serious sin? Indeed, do you really believe, after all, that there is any such thing as a serious sin? Do you believe that there is such a thing as eternal ruin?–and that God might condemn you to it?
Lord, I do believe!
Lord, I want to obey your Word!
Lord, cure my hypocrisy!
Lord, be patient with me!
From the May 1984 issue of Lay Witness.