Tomorrow, we come to Quinquagesima, the final Sunday of Pre-Lent. It is time to stir the Fat Tuesday pancake batter – Ash Wednesday is racing quickly toward us. If you are still looking for a Lenten discipline, consider this offering from Cool People Care:
During Pre-Lent, we have been opening to the Holy Spirit, that she may show us the truth of our lives, and give us guidance and strength for transformation. In the prior weeks, we have invoked the Spirit as Wisdom, and as Sanctifier. This Sunday brings us to the Spirit as the fire of love. The epistle from I Corinthians 13 is so familiar that it can be difficult to actually hear Paul. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” Our minds tend to race along, sliding past the words, perhaps greased with sentimental memories of weddings and greeting cards, as we listen: “And now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three: but the greatest of these is love.”
The wise choice of Matthew 20 as the gospel stops such sentiment short, and displays what the love of the Holy Spirit really means, when it becomes active in our lives. The vineyard owner pays all the laborers the same, whether they had worked all day in the heat, or had only come at the eleventh hour. Those who worked all day grumbled, just as we do when a new person at the office is treated as well or better than we are. “Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first and the first last.” Love is not a warm-hearted, invisible good intention, but a generous, sacrificial way of life, which meets others in the truth of who they are (God’s living image) and what they need. Our narrow notions of justice are simply a case of the evil eye.
Only the Love which is the Holy Spirit can burn through our selfish justice, and cure us of the evil eye, so that we can truly see, no longer through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Christ tells us that the one “who would look out of My eyes, must have been crucified on My cross.” (Book of Activity, 5:3) Yet, as we entrust ourselves to the Love which thinketh no evil… but rejoiceth in the truth, we can set forth fearlessly on our Lenten journey.