As we continue our journey through Lent, we seek a roadmap of how to creatively make changes in our lives so that we are more open to God’s inspiration and can courageously take any necessary steps. In the Exodus reading, God reminds his people (who have already slipped into idolatry) that it was God who rescued them from slavery – out of love. And God always hopes that his love will be responded to freely.
Sometimes we act as though our relationship with God is one-sided, and as long as God does what we want, we will worship him. But as soon as we are “disappointed” in how events or relationships or health issues develop (when it looks like God has not obeyed us!), then we turn away… Consequently, we never allow God to reveal the surprising way that events could have developed, if we had allowed our faith to deepen during the struggle.
In 1 Cor, Paul eloquently describes the Christian reality of “embracing the Crucified Christ”. We know that Jesus suffered, yet often are surprised when our own lives begin to mirror his! Deep down, we resist it and run away from ever discovering the “power and wisdom” to be found when we stand with Jesus and allow the Mystery of the Cross to touch our lives.
In the Gospel, when Jesus acts boldly to remind people of what honors and dishonors the God to whom we owe everything – and for this, Jesus is rejected. Early on, Jesus recognized that truth is not valued by everyone, and in fact those who cling to their own selfish desires often fiercely oppose the truth – but Jesus did not flinch. Even as the forces of evil closed in on him, Jesus remained focused on living true to himself and to his mission. It cost him everything… Jesus knew how to live, and how to die. With a clear vision of what matters in this life, Jesus followed his heart. He embraced the God who saw clearly both evil and good at work in this world, yet continued to direct all toward the fulfillment he prepared – preferring to separate the wheat from the chaff at the end… His Father wanted Jesus to stand up to every form of evil, to unmask it, and ultimately to destroy it, and then lead God’s people triumphantly home…
God calls each of us to embrace and follow the Crucified One, the Stumbling Block, who invites us to walk this same journey with him. Then one day, each of us will be able to say with him: “It is finished.” (Jn 19:30) Then with our last breath, we will joyously surrender to God the life we have lived for him. May this Lenten journey continue to purify our hearts so that we live and die with all that we are set on the God who gave all so that we could rise from the ashes… May it not have been in vain…
-Sr. Patrice Yarborough
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