Johannes Baptist Metz writes that becoming a human being is both a mission and a mandate. We are not given our humanity or our destiny as other animals who simply live out of their “natures.” That’s what dogs do. That’s what cats do. That’s what a lion does. And then of course the next statement is, that is what humans do. To which Oscar Wilde responded that if a person says they were just acting like a human being you can pretty much count on their having just behaved as an animal.
Your mission and my mission is to be fully human. We want to live up to and through what is most noble about that. This is also a mandate, a call and command to us to grow, expand, and reach for what is best in ourselves and others. This Lenten season offers us a chance to be introspective about how we’re doing with that mandate. We do so within the Christian religious context of Christ’s forty days temptation in the wilderness. There he struggled with his human poverty and limits, resisted the temptation to be something other than what God had called him to be and stepped into and through his destiny as the Savior of the world. When he finished those temptations, he came out of the wilderness preaching that God’s Kingdom was near. What about us? What about you? If you’re going to “give up something for Lent,” then how about this: give up those less-than-noble calls that would diminish your humanity and dignity, your life in God. And embrace the mission and mandate to be like Christ. If we do that, we might awaken to that kingdom that Jesus proclaimed is very near.