After forty years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land. So God commanded them to be strong and brave (Joshua 1:6). He wanted them to know that while he did promise them a home for themselves, they had to cooperate with him in order to receive this inheritance.
In a similar way, God calls each of us to be strong and courageous so that we can experience his freedom and grace during our Lenten “desert” journey. Jesus has already defeated sin, and now he calls us to stand firm in faith. He calls us to trust that as we stay close to him, all the grace of our redemption will flow into our hearts like a rushing river.
This is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so important. Whenever we turn to God and confess our sins, he washes us clean so that we can continue to move forward toward the “Promised Land” he has given us. The following examination of conscience, while not exhaustive, is meant to help you identify those areas in your life where you may have put aside the call to be strong in the Lord. Prayerfully consider the questions below, and ask the Holy Spirit to point out where you need repentance. As you do, know that God loves to forgive us and empower us to take hold of all the promises he has given us.
Love for God (Mark 12:28-30; John 14:23-24). In what ways do I put God first, above all else? Do I carve out time in the day to be with him in prayer? Do I look upon God’s Church and his laws with respect and gratitude?
Love for Others (Luke 10:25-37; John 13:12-15). Can I recall any situations in which I failed to care for the people the Lord has put in my life? Were there times when I resisted putting their needs before my own? Can I remember any situations in which I failed to treat someone with the respect and dignity of a child of God?
Mercy (Matthew 18:21-35; John 8:1-11). Are there situations in which I am finding it hard to forgive someone who hurt me? Are there groups of people whom I have judged too quickly based on their social status, their race, or their appearance? Are there situations in which I am reluctant to receive God’s mercy or find it hard to show others mercy?
Humility (Mark 10:13-16; Philippians 2:6-11). How often do I recall that my talents and gifts come from God? Have I treated the people I regularly encounter as children of God, regardless of their state or position in life? To what extent do I rely on the Lord and his grace and power during my days?
Generosity (Mark 6:30-34; Luke 6:38). How easy do I find it to share my time and gifts with others? Am I generous when it comes to supporting charitable organizations that care for the poor and needy? How much do I rely on the Lord for fulfillment, compared to the security I find from my material possessions?
Courage (Joshua 1:7-9; Matthew 23:37-39). Can I recall situations when I should have spoken the truth in love, but didn’t? Am I doing all I can to stand up against injustice and to protect the unborn, the poor, and the defenseless? Are there recent situations in which I failed to persevere through a difficulty that confronted me?