Blog # 294 Lent - 1
'Today' on our liturgical calendar is labeled 'Thursday, Lent - week five'. We are far along on our journey to Holy Week and Easter 2013. It would be appropriate to ask how our observance of Lent is going. A text that I have found useful for some extended reflection is Philippians 3: 10. "I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from His Resurrection; likewise to know how to share in His sufferings by being formed into the pattern of His death. Thus do I hope that I may arrive at resurrection." I have coupled it with the opening prayer for the first Sunday of Lent: "Father, through our observance of Lent, help us to understand the meaning of Your Son's death and Resurrection, and teach us to reflect it in our lives."
"...through our observance of Lent...", whatever it is we decided that is different and special for us during the weeks in preparation for the official renewal of our Baptismal commitment this Easter, whether it be to spend more time in prayer, spiritual reading, rest, less time with TV, giving up smoking, getting enough exercise, or whatever it is, this we offer to You to make something happen for us believers, joined in faith with Your Son, Whom You love.
"... help us..." we know it would turn out better if You would do it all, without us, or maybe when we are asleep, but we also know that is not Your plan, so we ask Your help. Gifted as we are with faith and freedom we know it is our responsibility to discover and to live out Your will for us in Jesus, Your Son, each day.
"...help us understand..." If You had called us, Father, to be Your slaves or servants rather than Your children, it might have been more appropriate to have prayed to "know and carry out Your will" so You would not be angry with us or punish us for our failures and disobedience. But we know by faith You did not create us because You needed something to be done here on earth, and then. later on, if we qualify, more singers in Your choir in Heaven. No, it was rather that You created us because You loved us, even before we came to be. And so You wanted us to be as much like You as we could , so we could love You each in our own limited yet real and beautiful way.
So we know You wanted us to understand as far as we could what You were doing when in the beginning You created all that exists, and all that You are doing now in keeping it all, including ourselves, in existance, which measns in Your love. In praying for understanding we are praying to be more like You, Yes, Father, that is what You want for us. That is what we want. "Father, help us to understand..."
"...the meaning of Your Son's death..." What we are really asking for, dear Father, is faith. ANYONE who happened to be there on Calvary when Jesus died would have known WHAT happened. ANYONE would have known that He had been rejected and condemned for something or other, that He was in pain, and that He died. But ONLY A BELIEVER would have known WHY.
In asking for understanding we are asking why. We are asking for faith. We want to understand why it was Jesus referred to His death as His 'glory' rather than His glory being His miracles, prayer experiences, preaching, or any other thing that He did, all of which was according to Your will for Him.
Help us, Father, understand the several times in John's Gospel light is shined on the meaning of Calvary. In Jn 3:14: "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that all who believe may have eternal life in Him". Jn 12: 32 f: "...and once I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself. (This statement indicated the sort of death He had to die.)" Jn 12: 23f: "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be GLORIFIED.. I solemnly assure you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit." Jn 15: 13: "There is no greater LOVE than THIS: to lay down one's life for one's friends."
"...and Resurrection..." Help us. Father, to understand the meaning of the Resurrection. A danger is we think we know quite well what it means, but I wonder. If a person really knew, could he or she ever sin again? If we really knew would any of us ever be afraid of death or live in a way that was not preparing for and already participating by faith in our own calling forth by Your love into Eternal Life? Father, help us understand...
"...and teach us to reflect our understanding of the meaning of the death and Resurrection of Jesus in our lives..." This is Philippians again (3: 10). "I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from His Resurrection, likewise to know how to share in His sufferings BY BEING FORMED INTO THE PATTERN OF HIS DEATH. THUS do I hope that I may arrive at resurrection from the dead.
We are not asking here to suffer, but to love with a total love, no matter what!
Lent, 2013. What an opportunity! What a gift !