Saturday, March 12, 2011

Welcome to the First Lent....

Welcome to our FIRST Lent. Both you and I have never been through this season before. We can say, and rightly so, I have made the Lenten journey before. We have not made this journey AS WE ARE TODAY. Since we journeyed through the desert with Jesus, as we did last year, so much has happened in our lives. Through the so called "ordinary" events of living, our God has fashioned us more deeply into the image of His Son. Since last year, since last month, since last week, since yesterday, we have been drawn closer to Him who is, Light. He, who is the light of truth, leads us to see more clearly who we really are. When we reflect on who we are truly called to be, we realize there is so much more work to be done. All this, however, will happen in our gracious God's time, not in our time. So, there is that gift of patience with ourselves which must be a necessary part of our daily prayer. Unless we have patience and compassion with ourselves, we will never know the patience and compassion of our God. In other words, we will have a false God. A false god we will pray to, and of necessity nothing will happen, that is good. We will get frustrated at the lack of results. We will come to the conclusion, falsely of course, that God does not exist. The living God of Jesus Christ is a God of compassion, mercy and patience. He is the Master Teacher, teaching us not in the way we expect Him to teach us, but in the very opposite way. We come to realize, more and more, the wisdom of the scripture, "God's ways are not our ways", " His thoughts are not our thoughts".

We then will have to let go our narrow understanding, and thoughts of who God is, and how He relates to us. We have to surrender, and surrender a great deal. In fact, we will have to surrender everything. Surrender is not easy. It is very difficult, and excruciatingly painful. We, as human beings, will do anything to avoid it. It is UnAmerican to surrender. Yet, sad to say, without surrender, without the giving up of control, there is no advancement along the spiritual path. We then, sad to say, we become more selfish, more self centered, more religious and more self righteous. We turn in on ourselves, and shut everyone else, that does not meet our narrow standards, out. We have all the answers. What a lonely place to be. Lonely, because the living God cannot reach us there. He does not know us there. We are living a life He has not intended us to live.

Lent is a journey into what it really means to be, really human. This was the same "cross" that Jesus picked up and carried. We follow along. Where He has gone, we will journey to as well. I have to emphasize, EVERYWHERE, Jesus journeyed to, we will journey to as well. It is a journey into the mystery. The mystery of why God would allow His Son to be beaten, broken and weakened. Weakened to the point that His Beloved Son felt He was abandoned by His Father. Each time we enter The Paschal Mystery we are brought to a deeper understanding, of our own weaknesses, failures, brokenness and how our God reveals Himself to us in the ways, and in the places we least expect . Calvary is not about feeling good. There were no good feelings on Calvary. There was however, obedience and fidelity. On the part of Jesus, and what was left of those who outwardly had the courage to support Him. There were not very many to openly stand by Him. The self righteous religious leaders must have felt pretty good about what they has accomplished, with the support of the civil authority. They thought they had the answers and see where that lead them to. They had all the answers and were not prepared to listen to the question the life and ministry of Jesus offered to them. Lent is the time offered to us where are challenged to not only see, but inwardly and outwardly respond to what is placed before us. This will happen through prayer, the reading of solid, well grounded spiritual writers, Mass, and living out in a practical way what was celebrated in the Eucharist.

The desert is a harsh place to be. It is demanding of a persons, physical, spiritual and emotional resources. You do not go into to desert unprepared for what is before you. We in Arizona are reminded all the time what happens to those who are not prepared. The result is death. We, however, enter the desert of Lent with all that we need. For the desert journey, we as humans need food and water. On this Lenten journey, we enter the desert experience with Him who is The Bread of Life, and a source of refreshing water bubbling up to lead us to eternal life. We journey anew with Him, who has the knowledge, the wisdom, the experience and be lead, if only we surrender, to a newer, more exciting, more wonder-full, understanding of what it really means to share in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. The Mystery, we have been baptized into, and whose reality, is, our daily experience. We must always keep before our Lenten journey IS our daily, 365 times a year, experience. We are given this time to place it under the microscope of faith. This bringing of our daily living, with all of it joys and sorrows, will lead us to the wisdom that will bring greater joy, happiness, and freedom to the living out of our daily life. This is another way our God makes all things work together for good. It ALWAYS happens for those who allow it to happen. Not in a way that we think is best, control, bit in the ways our God knows is best for us, surrender. Not only in what is best for us, but in the way our God sees it as fitting into His universal plan. There is always something greater to who we are, what we do, and what we experience. This has been a plan that has been in place from all eternity. You and I have been present in the mind of God from all of eternity, so why have we been given our unique existence right now? What is our experience our God has seen as necessary, for the perfection of His creation?