Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter another Lenten season on Ash Wednesday, March 2, it is helpful to place it in the broader context of the reality of Christ.
Through the will of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was born into the world through the Virgin Mary. The whole of his life and ministry was about fulfilling the will of God, culminating in his passion, death and resurrection for our salvation. And the same Holy Spirit through whom the Father raised Jesus from the dead is given to the body of disciples, thus establishing the Church.
So, the 40 days of Lent are a preparation for the great liturgical celebration of the Triduum and the 50 days of Easter.
Lent is a time of renewal for our faith. Faith requires that we look beyond our world to the things of heaven and the great works of God. Faith requires that we set aside our own perception and ways of thinking and try to see our world and others through the eyes of God. Faith continually seeks God, and Lent allows us to rediscover this deep longing of our hearts.
As we make our way through Lent, we do so through the lens of resurrection, knowing that we already participate in the first fruits of Jesus’ being the firstborn from the dead.
Jesus died to free us from our sins. This brings us to the critical point of our Lenten journey. It is helpful to recall the words of St. Peter on Pentecost: “You killed him” (Acts 2:23). Yes, historically, specific people crucified Jesus, but in his passion, Jesus took on the sins of the whole world — yours and mine included. This is what Scripture means when it says, “He made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Lent is a time to be mindful of the sins that still plague us and prevent us from living fully the righteousness that is already ours in the Risen Christ. Lent is a time for us to join ourselves ever more closely to Christ who suffered and died for us to conquer sin and death. It is a time to prayerfully ponder the mystery of the cross, and rediscover the life that is ours now in the Risen Christ.
Faith is our key. As Abbot Jeremy Driscoll from Mount Angel recently reminded our regional bishops: “Only faith encounters the Risen Lord.”
Lent is a time to give thanks for the great work of God, our salvation. The greatest prayer of thanks we have is the Eucharist that Christ established at the Last Supper. Every Eucharist remembers, proclaims and participates in the death and resurrection of the Lord.
May this Lent strengthen our faith in Christ and be a true preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of the Lord, so we may live in the world as the Body of the Christ, the Church.