With only a few days to go before “Semana Santa” – Holy Week, I thought it would be a good time to blog a bit about Lent. Thanks to a gift from my family we have visually been journeying with Jesus to the cross these past weeks since Ash Wednesday (March 9th). Admittedly we have missed a few days and we have not added many activities to our daily routines but the kids and I have taken some time to focus on a few key ideas that Jesus emphasized during his years before his death and resurrection – giving thanks, forgiveness, charity and faith – in attempt to a least begin to bring some significance to this time in the church calendar. This past Sunday Rick also helped the kids add to our display but making an Easter garden, an idea passed on to me by my sister Stephanie last year, that gives way to talking about the cross, death and life.
Rick and I have been spending some time reading and discussing parts of a devotional type book I found at the MCC Office back in October called “Seven Weeks for the Soul,” by Gerard W. Hughes – a British spiritual/ecumenical writer who has interest in justice and peace issues – an emphasis I have very much appreciated these past 5+ weeks in particular because of my desire to grow/learn in these areas during this time of life. Last week I wrote a bit about this book in an email so I thought it good to include this bit of introduction here as well. The author in part views lent as a time to focus on doing spiritual battle, a time for penance – not in the more typical sense but based on the greek word for penance that means “a change of heart.” I quote ” Lent is not meant to be a time for punishment and pain, but a time for changing our mind, our outlook, and attitudes..as the prophet Joel tells Israel, “Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn” Joel 2:13. As we bring ourselves into God’s presence this Easter season and surrender ourselves to his working may he bring the change of heart that he desires, along with the change of action that will likely result. In addition this past week during some more reading of this book I was lead to meditate more on a verse from 1 Cor 5:20-21 “We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as thought God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.” (Jerusalem Bible Translation) I find myself asking the question, does my life represent Christ, his goodness, love, peace? Does my life make a relationship with Christ appealing? Does the way I live life bring about a desire for others seek out reconciliation with God? In part I have had similar questions in the past, but particular to this time of meditation I also ask myself the question – am I becoming the goodness of God? And, what does this exactly mean? At this point I might use the phrase Mi Falta or in English I’m Lacking a more academic exposition of this phrase/translation but in relation to my previous questions at this point I’m forced to contemplate the idea that in part what scripture is saying here is that while many people may lack much goodness in their life, and wonder where God is in the midst of their difficulties or sadness, my role in my relationships is to be this goodness – to be loving, faithful, caring, available, providing of needs, a friend, a good listener, a bringer of peace. And additionally, to somehow pass on the reality that this goodness is not of myself but comes ultimately from God, which I realize can only be done if the goodness I hope to exude is actually a reality inside me which comes through the spirit of Christ living powerfully in and through me. And so this is one area in which I am “doing penance” this lenten season, asking God to to bring about a change in my heart, to continue to develop in me an attitude to focus on the goodness he brings to me and allow his spirit to share his goodness through my relationships with others.