I Lent: Confidence and honesty

Homily notes for Sunday, March 1

As we head into Lent, it strikes me that a healthy approach to this season requires a strong dose of both confidence and honesty.  In the epistle (II Cor 5), Paul tells us we are to labor that we may be accepted of him, for we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ.   Further, we are to give no offense in anything, and are counseled to examine oursleves, whether we be in the faith; and to prove our own selves.   This kind of clear honesty, looking with unblinking gaze on those parts of our lives where we love darkness rather than light, bravely lifting off the veils with which we cover our deeds, is often associated with Lent… in our general thougthts about Lent.  In practice, it can be way too scary.  Or, if we are drawn toward such deep delving into conscience, it can turn into an unhelpful wallowing in darkness and depression. 

How then do we approach self-examination, much less penance and amendment of our lives?  The key is also found in the readings this week.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.  (John 3)   And in the epistle:  therefore if anyone be in Christ, they are a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  This new reality is already taking hold in us, by the Holy Ghost, by the power of God, and is nourished each week at this table by the body and blood of Christ.

When we not only trust, but know (in the most profound and personal sense of that verb) that, from the core of our being, we are wrought in God, and constantly surrounded by his transforming love, there is no more fear.  We can walk into the light, carrying all the substance of our life – the good and wonderful, as well as the shameful and painful.  We hand all of this to the Alchemist who finds the ingredients of the new creation precisely in the broken shards we give him. 

We can only offer to Christ what we really have, who we truly are, not our gradiose and self-protective imaginations of ourselves… and Lent is an opportunity, surrouded in God’s love, to discover and to offer.

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