Lent is a wake-up call to Repentance – to begin a new way of life. It is an opportunity for us to really begin to form a new habit which can radically transform our life. Lent gives us 40 days to practice how we are to live our life for the rest of the time. It is the way for us to prepare for the joy of Easter and the New Life that is ours in the Dying and Rising of Jesus.
Jesus did not come to save us by His miracles. He saved us by His passion. Beginning at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweated blood, was plotted against, was betrayed with a kiss and abandoned by His Apostles. Jesus was arrested, handed over to the authorities, was judged and condemned to crucifixion. He was rejected for Barabbas, a murderer. He was scourged 39 times (maybe more), blind-folded, spat upon in the face, mocked, slapped and crowned with thorns. Jesus was made to carry His own cross, stripped of all His garments and then fastened naked to the cross, with nails to His Hands and Feet.
Through all of this, JESUS WAS NEVER NOT IN CONTROL. He fully understood the hand of Satan behind all these acts and withstood the attack fearlessly with an unshakeable confidence in His Father, who permitted it. At every step of His Passion, Jesus was in PERFECT PEACE. This is the PEACE we receive at every Mass to take back to our daily life.
In His Passion, Jesus fulfilled the first 2 Commandments – Total love of God and love unto death for humanity. The love of God for Jesus and the love of Jesus for God was the force that sustained Jesus on the Cross. The power of this love allowed Jesus to reach out in excruciating pain to beg God to forgive His torturers; to promise paradise to the repentant thief who only asked to be remembered; and finally blessed us, a fractured humanity with the gift of His loving Mother standing at the cross, who consented to be the Mother of even the murderers of her beloved Son.
What was Jesus doing on the Cross, as He hung on 3 nails for 3 hours? Jesus was showing us the Love of the Father and how much we matter. With His Arms outstretched, He absorbed the sins of the entire human race for those 3 hours. He was fighting a battle with Satan for you and for me. Crushing the head of Satan, Jesus opened the gates of heaven, for that is where our Father wants us all to be.
What does Jesus want from us? LOVE!!
Jesus loves us without limit, beyond our imagination and wants us to make a generous response to His love. He invites us to join Him in fulfilling the Father’s plan to bring ALL men back to Him. We can do this by surrendering ourselves fully to God as Jesus did, not as an obligation but with immense love.
Eucharistic Mass is Jesus’ perfect sacrifice offered to the Father for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus is hiding under the appearance of Bread because if He didn’t we would never be able to get so close to Him. We need to be careful not to be casual in handling the Body of Jesus. During Lent let us begin to take pains to be aware when we are receiving Jesus that we carry within us – The Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. He is the only Begotten Son of God; the unblemished Lamb of sacrifice, the radiance of God’s Glory’, the image of the Unseen God, the very Heart of God and the God of our heart. Remember that Jesus fought a battle with Satan for each of us, taking on pain way beyond our understanding.
We all have crucifixes in our homes, on ourselves, and in every possible place. I know that for me, for many years, it was just a cross; that a human being was nailed to it didn’t bother me. Let us admit that we have got used to seeing Jesus on the cross. During this Lent, let us make time to regularly stand before a crucifix (or hold one in your hand) with a deep desire to discover within Jesus’ suffering the enormity of our sins. Contemplate each Hand split open by the nail; the bruises on His shoulders from carrying the cross. See the feet of Jesus pierced and fastened to the cross. Look long at His head and face framed by thorns. Look into His eyes deeply, at the pain and tears. Remain with Jesus, stark naked and vulnerable, and become aware of His love flowing to you from the cross. This meditation cannot be done in minutes, in an hour or a few days. A lifetime will not be enough to grasp the power of God’s love for us. I pray that during this Lenten season you will endeavor to come close to Jesus in a deep relationship of knowing, loving and following Jesus, for which Jesus is longing and waiting daily.
May the grace of our lord Jesus Christ, the love of God our Father and the power of the Holy Spirit be with you to transform your life.