Lent is about the process of conversion. We turn away from sin and return to the Good News of Jesus Christ. Through our baptism we are born, over and over, again and again. Over and over, God rolls back stones from our tombs of complacency, calling us out into the light of life.
Unexpected events—whether heart-lifting or heartbreaking—often nudge us toward questioning the meaning of life. A baby is born. Someone betrays us. We lose a job. We find a friend. News of war and conflict around the world appalls us. We celebrate an anniversary. A relationship ends. A child leaves home. A spouse dies.
In happy times, we ask, “How did we deserve this?” If our answer is, “We don’t. It’s pure gift. It’s pure grace,” then we have seen the revelation of God’s generous love. In painful times, we ask, “How did we deserve this?” If our answer is, “We don’t. And we can’t handle this alone,” we can turn to God (or to companions as God’s helpers) for hope and healing, once again tasting the revelation of God’s love.
Such times can be conversion times. These moments of revelation are God’s call, God’s reaching out to us: Conversion and faith are our response.
The sacraments and the liturgical year help to celebrate and nourish these new conversions. The ordinary is born again into the extraordinary; our faith helps us see this. Eating, drinking, bathing, anointing, reconciling, healing, leading, marrying, using bread, wine, water, oil, gesture and vesture, music, laying on of hands, and taking part in processions in a community of faith—all these human events are caught up into the new creation. Sunday after Sunday, Lent after Lent, year after year, we bring all this to liturgy so that all of life and all creation might be born again and again through God’s Spirit who makes all creation new.
For many people, dying often triggers a crisis. Dying can mean the day-to-day dying of people who love, for example, in marriage, friendship, or serving others. In Italian, amore (love) has its roots in morte (death). In the quiet dailiness of our relationships and our vocations, we experience death to self and to our needs. This kind of dying is part of one’s care, compassion, sensitivity, and love for others. We experience the new life which death brings—the life for which we give thanks at Eucharist and which is the place of ongoing conversion.
Adapted from Fast, Pray, Give: Making the Most of Lent, Mary Carol Kendzia, editor, copyright 2012 (Franciscan Media, 365387; thirty-minute DVD, 365578).
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