Monday, March 8, 2010
For the days and weeks proceeding Lent we prepare to begin an intense spiritual conversion. For the first few weeks of Lent we focus on fasting, prayer, and penance in reparation for our sins and as fresh proof of our love for Christ and willingness to do God's Will. Now that we are halfway through the blessed season of Lent, we are no longer looking inward, but forward. Although we continue our penances and preparation, we are now looking towards the path of life Christ has set before us and preparing to receive His Gifts of love and sacrifice. We have been purifying our hearts and reforming our lives, it is now time to use this new penance and forgiveness to allow our lives to bear both physical and spiritual fruit.
Jesus spent most of His ministry preparing His disciples to receive the ultimate gift. This gift was threefold: Himself, Salvation/Grace, and His Church. Before His arrest, Jesus prayed. He told His apostles "pray that you may not be put to the test." He knew what was about to happen, this night was prophetic. For the apostles, this was just another night... another night in which they must follow God's law and serve Him... but Jesus' preparation was looking forward, looking forward to the greatest event in eternity.
Humanity is prone to fall into a kind of deceptive stability. We never cease to move and grow, time never ceases to continue, but all too often our lives become so rhythmic and uneventful that the really important things in life begin to seem less epic and new. Lent brings us out of this type of bodily and spiritual death to a new and vigorous growth. Jesus' words "pray, that you may not be put to the test" are very significant for this period of Lent. They look forward at what is about to happen. They are preparatory for the climax of life and death: the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, how do we look forward? The conversion of heart and soul that takes place during Lent is not simply meant to be like a window that is scrubbed and then left alone for another several months... this conversion is the revival of a dead plant, one that, with this new care, can now grow and bear fruit. The fruits of our penances should begin to show in our actions and in our spiritual holiness. Our relationship with Christ should be deepening, our resolve strengthening, and our kindness flourishing. Our focus should be reverted to Christ and the great Mystery that is about to take place. Our fervor in our resolve to follow Him should be renewed, and our characters "clothed with armor," ready to participate in God's great victory. No longer are our Lenten promises empty observances... but now they are taking meaning and nourishing good within us.
Think in your heart "At the time of Christ's coming, I will be ready. At the time of Christ's coming, I will be pure of heart and ready to show my love. At the time of Christ's coming, I will receive His wisdom with an open heart. At the time of Christ's coming, I will allow His graces to come into me. At the time of Christ's coming, I will give Him the gift of myself... at the time of Christ's coming, I will share in His Sacrifice and His glorious resurrection!" You have been focusing on yourself, your own conversion, and on the present... now look forward and focus on Christ. Seek Him, contemplate Him, prepare for Him, grow closer to Him... for His time is coming.