Pastoral Message – February 28, 2021
We’re celebrating the second Sunday of Lent. On this Sunday we’ll hear about Abraham passing a test by being obedient to God by offering Isaac his only son as a sacrifice. We’ll also hear St. Paul’s logic, proving that God is “for us.” And the Gospel is St. Mark’s version of the happenings on that mountain top when the Transfiguration of Jesus revealed some important truths to Peter, James and John.
That’s all great theological stuff. I take a lot of comfort in all the Bible passages the Church offers us in Lent. These readings are bright spots that offer enlightenment and revelation in the midst of repentance. Maybe like me, you need a bright spot right now. I tend to struggle with Lent. I have sort of a love/dislike relationship with the season.
It’s possible that the discipline and deprivation gets me down. I’d rather think that I’m “free” (you can take that as undisciplined), allowing myself all sinless pleasures with abandon (no fasting, moderation or consequences). It’s also possible that I would rather conveniently “forget” I’m a sinner in need of forgiveness. It’s much more comfortable to live in denial of personal sin and evil in the world. Maybe I’d rather not have to humble myself to get to Confession, or pray more, or fast or give alms. So in struggling with this penitential stuff, I find there is a seasonal sadness. But when I really consider this, how false, silly and selfish are these ego-generated attitudes of mine.
So when I heard Lent described as a season of “bright sadness,” I knew I had a soul-mate out there somewhere. The practice of the season of Lent is meant to kindle within our hearts and minds a burning desire for a relationship with God – a relationship that might have been diminished or even extinguished by our ego-generated attitudes. Lent allows us to seek recovery of any brokenness with God or humans. And since we know that as recovery happens, as sincere contrition is expressed and as generosity and love begin to percolate, then we can hope to be transfigured, transformed and changed. Through Lent and through our own practices, the Holy Spirit works through the Church and in each of our own hearts and minds to give us enlightenment, wisdom and love, replacing that egotistical darkness that only grows guilt. Sadness then is changed to a bright and warm, humble and grateful joy.
Imagine then how Lent, drawn out over 40 days, prefigures those 48 or so hours between Jesus’ arrest and his Resurrection. The utter darkness that stems from Jesus’ arrest – condemnation, scourging, mockery, crucifixion, death and the grave is transfigured, transformed and changed by the brilliance of death’s defeat via Jesus’ resurrection. The celebration of the bright sadness of Triduum and Easter is that for which Lent is meant to prepare us.
Think about this if you’re like me and this message applies to you. Pray about it. And join me in living out a Lenten season of bright sadness until we celebrate the fullness of Easter joy.
Blessings to all y’all,