A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
This week we enter the wilderness of Lent, no doubt with a certain perennial sense of apprehension, or even misgiving; to mark our time by way of deprivation, by keeping a fast, and to concern ourselves with the strange effort of discovering our innermost frailties appears to be contrary to the very roots of our mortal nature. We are made with bodies that must be protected in the midst of life’s many dangers, and in order to preserve ourselves from harm’s way we learn how best to play to our strengths. To remove some part of our power and safety seems altogether unnecessary, and even reckless.
But that is not the meaning of our Lenten way, and if we were to suppose it was so, we would miss the whole good purpose of this graceful season. The fast of Lent is like a doorway, leading us out from our natural and material preoccupations, into a landscape that is spiritual and supernatural, so that we may find there our true heart’s desire, the love of our life, and the fulfillment of all our hope: the God-man Jesus, who is present with us, “in spirit and in truth,” so that in the truth of His spiritual goodness we may discover new life and a stronger power than our frail humanity knows by itself. The power of Christ is the power of miracle, to use the mortal world as a vessel of immortal grace, grace to heal, to renew, and to strengthen us beyond our preconceived earthly limits. That is to say, the power of Christ is the power to share His life with us, and we must be moved to such honesty, such clarity of heart and soul—’Jesus said, receive thy sight’—to confess openly and freely that only the real embrace of His love for us can bring us any joy, or peace, or delight in the experience of being.
“Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing,” St. Paul tells us, and here, on the verge of a new Lent, his wonderful exultation of love becomes more clear, and more poignant: we have love only in so far as we have Jesus, and it is by way of our devotion to Him, our soul’s response of love requited in His loving presence, that Lent calls us to come and follow Him. For His part, He travels the way of His own love’s cost, and just as Paul says, He will bear it out to the end, without failing, patiently, with all kindness and humility; He will bear all things, and finally, suffer them. “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge him, and put him to death; and the third day he shall rise again.”
Therefore, dearly beloved “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race which is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12:1) Let us travel this Lenten way, of fasting and penitence, of prayer, self-denial and almsgiving, of meditation on His Holy Word, and so to be brought at last to the Wedding feast of the Lamb, the fullness of His love for us expressing its perfect and infinite price, His Passion, and the gift of our Salvation.