Piety, or personal holiness, has been defined, praised, condemned, or enforced in a variety of ways through out the history of the Church and even in the Jewish culture that preceded the Church. However, for the purposes of cultivating piety in the coming Lenten season, I would like to broadly define the practice of piety as deliberately choosing those ways or habits that deny our selfish desires and encourage us to love God and neighbor. In other words, piety is simply choosing to live as who are, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and beloved children of God, rather than according to the lies and deceptions of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
However, the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and alms giving can at times seem inward focused rather than upward and outward focused. Perhaps in this liturgical year walking through Matthew’s Gospel we can turn to Scripture for insight. Since the Lenten season begins following the Feast of the Transfiguration and extends to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, this may be a good portion of Scripture to consider as we prepare to observe Lent.
In these three chapters of Matthew’s Gospel (Ch 17-20), we see the ministry and teaching of Jesus demonstrating what it means to live as the people of God, citizens of the Kingdom. It is the practical application of the discipleship requirement that Jesus gives in Matthew 16:24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
We find a call to be a Kingdom people.
– Trusting in God and not idols
– Having a faith moves mountains
– Establishing a community of equality as children of God
– Pursuing reconciliation and not retribution
– Seeking unity and not division
– Striving for humility not position, wealth, and status
– Living in selflessness and not selfishness
– Seeing true greatness in service
I invite you to prayerfully consider how your Lenten devotions can teach us to walk as we truly are, as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, setting aside selfish desire and cultivating love.
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