The recent threat to disrupt the Carnival and to throw the country into a subsequent state of panic and confusion has seen the arrest, according to one media report, of 13 persons. The authorities, in conjunction with American intelligence, say that they have succeeded in quashing the plans that were being hatched, although the public was warned that danger still lurked. The truth is that as long as men nurture evil intent, the threat to personal and public safety will exist in one form or another.
Lent allows us the time and urges us to use every opportunity to ponder the part that each of us plays in the fate of this nation of ours. We may not see ourselves as ‘terrorists’ and would recoil in horror if we were to be accused of hatching plots against the national interest.
We may not see that everyday actions and omissions can well have long-term, cumulative ill effects on our people and our country, even as we condemn those who deliberately set out to maim and murder and impose chaos on our land.
In today’s gospel reading (Mark 1:12–15), Jesus experiences temptations by the devil in the desert. He resists Satan’s lures and after 40 days, he enters Galilee and proclaims the urgency to repent and to believe the word of God. How easy it is for us to turn a deaf ear to His words.
The temptation to destroy with our tongues and through social media the character of others is real and easily passed over as “true talk, bad manners”. The precedent-setting ruling by Justice Frank Seepersad should erase the misconception that defamatory statements are acceptable as part of our ‘mauvaise langue’ national identity. The harm that can be occasioned by ugly, spiteful and destructive words is akin to the effects of the weapons of terrorists.
The ease with which we ignore the pleas of the poor and the downtrodden and those against whom injustices have been committed is often excused as ‘minding’ one’s own business.
The abused family, the neighbour whose crops are being pilfered, the woman begging for understanding and compassion for herself and her unborn child and the youth down the street who has no role model, no value system that can raise him from delinquent to contributing member of society—they, too, are destroyed by a lack of care which denies them a share of the Good News to which we are all entitled.
Lent helps us to examine our attitude to Christ Himself. Is attendance at Mass perceived as necessary at all when so many fellow Catholics have fallen away from the faith and the practices the Church offers us to help us to enrich our spiritual lives. Shortening the time that should be spent at Church is simple, once we arrive late and leave at Communion time. Collection, even for the St Vincent de Paul Society, may be low on our list of priorities.
We are not criminals yet we condemn our own souls. In this period of grace, may we become givers, and not destroyers, of life.