“For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.” Phil 3 : 18.
Christ had enemies and adversaries when He was here on Earth. He seems to commonly come into disputes with the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Herodians, and many other groups. Here St. Paul talks not about the enemies of the cross of Christ specifically. It’s a big deal-in other places, St. Paul calls the preaching of Christ crucified “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.” 1 Cor 1 : 23. Christ’s own disciples even abandon Him as He goes to the cross.
If we’re honest, you and I can often be counted amongst the enemies of the cross of Christ. How often this can be said of us-“Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their ‘shame.’ Their minds are occupied with earthly things.” Phil 3 : 19.
A certain delectable candy bar often reminds us that “you’re not you when you’re hungry.” When things are not just how we like them, we become angry, or a little annoyed. We put great stock in the opinions of our peers, and spend more time than we would like to admit looking for celebrity gossip. Deep down, we love the seedy muck of a scandal or some dirty little secret. We pay so much attention to finances, to comparing ourselves and our possessions with those of others. We think about how we can get the most out of every situation. Our mind wanders. It lands and dwells on our own interests, our own lusts, our own prides and envies.
Lent calls us to far higher things, and reminds us that God calls us through adoption. Through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we overcome vapid thoughts about the world and re-center our lives on the Lord, who is Lord not only on Sunday, not only during prayer, but at all times. And it is He who calls us out of the mire and desires what is best for us. Our citizenship is in Heaven. We are stamped with the image of God into our souls.
Even though we labor to build a culture more in tune with this high, high calling, we will make mistakes. St. Paul says that we are to stand firm, and one does not need to stand firm if the storm of the world is not raging and blowing us about. It will not be easy, but we have the promise that “He will change our lowly body to conform with His glorified body.”
The call of Lent is to abide in Christ’s Passion, that this lowly body might die with Him, so that He might raise for us a glorified body with Him on Easter Sunday. There is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday, and there is no Good Friday without the cross.