Today’s reading from Isaiah proclaims,
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
When I read these words, I first thought of the groups who are attempting to dismantle our society. But this is Great Lent. The Church asks us to focus on our own sins, not our neighbor’s shortcomings. St. Ephraim reminds us of that lesson every time we complete his prayer.
How many times have I justified my ungodly behavior, thereby twisting evil and good? How often have the darkness of passions clouded my heart, displacing the light of God’s grace? Can I begin to recount the times an angry thought or argument festered in my mind, pushing out the sweetness of prayer for rancor?
There is much turbulent fear in our society, and I am not suggesting inaction. However, we are called to be the light of the world. How can we do that when the light within us is darkness? Our Lord’s light is dampened when we do not wage war against the passions. Therefore, our focus should be oriented inwardly.
If we do not win the battle in our own hearts, we will only amplify the darkness and bitterness around us. Repentance is the cure. Through it, we can pray, “Preserve the good in Thy goodness, and make the evil to be good by Thy goodness” (St. Basil’s Liturgy).
As the world continually demands our attention and outrage, may God instead lead us on the path of introspection and repentance this Great Lent.