By Maria Covarrubias
Can you believe we are half way through the holy season of Lent?
Lent is about embracing the fullness of our lives in Christ Jesus. The Church in its beautiful and profound wisdom offers us 40 days to embark on a meaningful journey to experience God’s mercy; a mercy leading to healing and a new and abundant life through prayer, forgiveness, almsgiving, repentance and a conversion of life.
At the beginning of Lent, we took ashes as a symbol of repentance, sacrifice and forgiveness. Most of us began with specific intentions to practice and live during this season, but now time is running out. How are you doing in the progress of your intentions for Lent? Have you experienced or discovered anything new about God, yourself, or others?
Sometimes it is hard to see progress, but as long as the effort is there, be conscious that God is with us, accompanying us in our journey and struggles. In Isaiah 43: 18-19, we read God telling us, “remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not. See I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Jeremiah 17: 7-8 affirms us, “blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Trusting and feeling affirmed makes a great difference in the way we perceive life and respond to it. One of my favorite Gospels of Lent is the transfiguration; a mountain top experience, a life changing event led by the Holy Spirit in a community of faith. Through the Holy Spirit and in trusting Him to lead us, we are capable of transformation and the world is capable of transformation, becoming a world of peace and justice.
The story of the fig tree that we heard on the third Sunday of Lent calls us to patience. Patience is an essential element for transformation to occur. In this parable, the gardener’s patience, illustrates God’s patience. “Let it stay for another year, in the mid time I will continue to cultivate and fertilize it.” In this action, God’s reveals his eternal hope and love demonstrated in his patience and mercy for us. It is each person’s response to God’s love that is important! We are capable of loving unconditionally, we are capable of forgiving, we are capable of becoming the being God created us to be. Pope Francis affirms, “In his parables devoted to mercy, Jesus reveals the nature of God as that of a father, who never gives up until he has forgiven the wrong and overcome rejection with compassion and mercy. Wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident in our parishes, communities, associations or movements. Even further, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy!”
In this we hear good news! God believes that we are capable of responding to his love and bear good fruit. What beautiful words of affirmation! God believes in us!
“Indeed, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17). The joyful Easter season is about this statement, the celebration of Jesus’s Resurrection as foundation of our salvation. Easter is also the crown of our efforts: our forgiveness, our repentance, our service to others, our sacrifices and our prayers. The goal is to be renewed! Our Lenten journey has taken us from forgiveness to resurrection. As a community of faith founded in God’s love and mercy, we will celebrate the Easter Season! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Reflection in action:
Take time to perceive the new that God is doing in you - write it down!
Do a very good confession in preparation for Easter.
Celebrate Easter in new ways- Be joy filled!
Maria Covarrubias is Director of the Office of Catechetical Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino.