A Catholic Bishop was once telling a story about three teenagers. They were passing a Catholic Church, and they saw the crucifix. They began to laugh about religion and talk about how shallow it was. Their talk led one of them to issue a dare that one of the other two should go in and tell the priest that all of religion was just a mockery, that there was no true meaning to it, that priests were just a bunch of fakes.

One of the young men accepted the dare, and went inside to tell these things to the priest. He told the priest precisely that he thought all religion was shallow and that priests were nothing but fakes. Instead of defending himself or religion, however, the priest simply asked the youth what had caused him to come in and tell him these things. The boy finally told him of the earlier conversation, and how he had accepted a dare.

The priest said “Son, I see that you are an adventurous young man, and one who easily accepts a dare. You have come in here and told me that religion was shallow, and that I am a fake, all of this on a dare. Now, I would like to offer you a challenge.”

The lad was curious and the priest continued, “I would like to dare you to walk to the front of this church and look right up into the face of Christ on the cross, and say three times, “Jesus died for me, and I don’t give a damn.”

The youth, having expressed himself already, could hardly do otherwise. With much boldness, and. an earnest desire to prove his point, he walked quickly to the front. He looked up into the face of Christ on the cross, and he said in a loud voice, “Jesus died for me, and I just don’t give a damn.” When he said it, he almost winced, but then in a softer voice, a more deliberate speed, he looked up and said, “Jesus died for me ... and I just don’t give a damn,” but he never said it the third time, instead he found himself on his knees weeping tears of repentance.

The compassionate priest was quickly at his side, and the boy left the church a new person. The Catholic Bishop continued, “And that was a true story, for I was that lad.”

A lot of people are going through life, maybe not facing up to the reality of Christ and what he did for them, but if they could be brought into focus in their lives, the picture would be about the same. Only God and myself can know whether I look at Jesus and say, “Jesus died for me, and I just don't give a damn.” It takes a hardhearted person to continue saying something like that to God.

We are now in the Lenten Season. We need to be searching our hearts. What am I saying with my life? Each one of us must answer that alone. Let us pray one for another that our faith would fail not. God bless you.

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