Lent as a Season of No Kidding: Where are We Behaving as the Crowd?
It is a time for brutal honesty about our own sin and failings.
Do you want to accompany Jesus closely, very closely? Open the Holy Gospel and read the Passion of Our Lord. But don't just read it: live it. There is a big difference. To read is to recall something that happened in the past; to live is to find oneself present at an event that is happening here and now, to be someone taking part in those scenes. Then, allow your heart to open wide; let it place itself next to Our Lord. And when you notice it trying to slip away -when you see that you are a coward, like the others - ask forgiveness for your cowardice and mine. (St Josemaria Escriva)
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In his powerful reflection on the Way of the Cross, St. Josemaria Escriva asks a poignant question which can be of great assistance to anyone who desires to enter more fully into the Gospel stories we hear and read on a daily basis at Holy Mass:
"Do you want to accompany Jesus closely, very closely? Open the Holy Gospel and read the Passion of Our Lord. But don't just read it: live it. There is a big difference. To read is to recall something that happened in the past; to live is to find oneself present at an event that is happening here and now, to be someone taking part in those scenes. Then, allow your heart to open wide; let it place itself next to Our Lord. And when you notice it trying to slip away -when you see that you are a coward, like the others - ask forgiveness for your cowardice and mine."
This method of reading the Gospel stories by entering into them is an ancient practice. The early fathers not only did it regularly but their inspired writings offer us examples of the great fruit it can bear. St Escriva urges the practice regularly. In another instance in the section of The Furrow dedicated to the Interior Life he reminds the reader," I advised you to read the New Testament for some minutes every day, and to enter into each scene and take part in it, as one more of the characters. This is so that you incarnate the Gospel, so that it is "fulfilled" in your life... and "make others fulfil it"." (#672)
This Gospel text presented to us by St Luke provides an opportunity to put this into practice and enhance our Lenten experience: "Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
"Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land.It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian. When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away." (Luke 4:24-30)
The passage is an excerpt from entire event recorded by St Luke in the fourth chapter of His Gospel. Jesus entered into the synagogue where he was raised in as a child and picks up the scroll of the Hebrew Scriptures. He reads the passage from the great prophet Isaiah. After initially \"speaking highly of Him\", the men of the synagogue realized where he was from and began to change their initial response.
They succumbed to pettiness and the proclivity to sin which is so evident in each one of us. In fact, they succumbed to the root of all sin, pride. Sadly, as a result, instead of encountering the Messiah for whom they longed, they became so blinded by their disordered emotional reactions they try to throw Jesus off of a cliff! They lost the gift of an encounter with God Incarnate - and all that it could have entailed - and joined those who reject him by their actions.
This is not the only time in the Gospels where people seek to throw Jesus off of a cliff. St Mark records the stunning and dramatic story of Jesus setting the Gerasene demoniac free from the torment inflicted upon him by evil spirits. This poor man dwelt in the tombs, tormented by evil. This man's deliverance should have been a cause for great rejoicing by his neighbors. However, just like those who had gathered in the Synagogue of Nazareth, they instead drove Jesus out of their neighborhood. (Mark 5:1-20)
There are many excellent reflections in the Christian tradition as to why they may have responded in this manner. Most point to the involvement of the pigs in this account; the demons went into the animals and 2,000 of ended up drowning - driven by the evil spirits into the sea. These sources point to the probability that these were gentiles involved in pig farming. Perhaps they lost substantial profits in this entire affair. They also suggest that the disordered love of economic matters can offer an insight as to why they were so blinded to the wondrous works of Jesus.
However, what is common to both stories is that each crowd encountered the Lord and failed to recognize Him. Each crowd witnessed the manifestation of the Kingdom of God and failed to be converted. They not only rejected all that could have been theirs if they had responded appropriately - they gave in to their own disordered response patterns and rejected the grace of the encounter. They became blinded to the glory of God as fully revealed in Jesus Christ. They missed the opportunity for their own deliverance and liberation.
This presents us with an opportunity for sober and honest reflection. We can hear or read the Gospel accounts on many levels. That is part of the reason why the Scriptures are such a treasure. They need to be read, re-read, prayed over, and read again and again and again. I suggest we take the Gospel account presented today as an invitation to ask ourselves a sobering question - and to answer it honestly. Where are we refusing to allow Jesus into our own lives? Where are we, in effect, driving Him out of our own neighborhood?
In the words of a dear priest friend of mine, Lent is a season of "no kidding". It is a time for brutal honesty about our own sin and failings. It is an invitation to shine the light offered by Jesus Christ into the areas of our daily lives which remain in darkness. It is a time to ask ourselves where have we sought to eject Jesus? Where are we behaving as the crowd?
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity: That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
- 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
- Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
- Lent is almost over, but have YOU kept this Commandment?
- 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
- Holy Thursday: Take Up the Basin and Towel. Love is a Verb.
- Holy Thursday: He Loves to the End
- 2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
- The Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
I wonder if perhaps it was tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He was tempted by the ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package. It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning ...Continue Reading
Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »