Is there something to Lent that goes beyond our own spiritual house cleaning and spiritual refinement? Yes, there is! It has to do with listening and learning so that we can take up the task of the Gospel with greater clarity and fortitude. While the spiritual refocusing of Lent is necessary, the fruit of this Lenten conversion has much more to do with learning how we can be a better Church than it does about our eternal salvation.
Salvation is a gift that flows out of God’s unconditional Mercy and cannot be merited. The spiritual maturity we can experience as a result of our Lenten disciplines serves to reduce the anxiety and apprehension we may experience as messengers of good, but very challenging, and unsettling, news.
St. Oscar Romero said that, “a church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed, what gospel is that?” When we listen to those descriptive and provocative words, do they resonate with anything in our experience? As messengers of the Gospel, we are called to bring an unsettling message to the world. If our main concern is protecting our self-interests, then we are missing something huge! Many really struggle with being rejected, dismissed, or perceived as someone who is speaking out of turn. There is a counter cultural message that must be preached that clearly sides with the poor, marginalized, victimized, oppressed, neglected, disregarded, and lost souls throughout the world. There is a widespread misery among the peoples that is all too often allowed to fester with no one coming forward to offer a change or resolution.
The Church can speak to the needed structural changes that will allow people to earn just wages, feed their families and share abundantly and equally in the gifts of God’s good earth. Such a vision is not some optimistic fairy tale, but the vision of the Creator himself. Lent reminds us, as St. Oscar Romero also states, that, “we are workers, not master builder, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.” We are not called to labor simply for the benefit of the here and now but of the “what is to come.” Our myopic vision can be replaced by a more far reaching Lenten vision that is much greater and deeper in scope. As long as we are carrying the right blueprints with us and our thoughts extend beyond ourselves, then even the little things we do and the simplest prayer we utter go a long way. They give witness to our preference for the light of Christ and not the darkness of error and sin.BACK TO LIST