Beaten, bruised, bloody, gasping for air, hands and feet nailed to a cross, hearing passersby scoff at the sight of his mangled body – in the midst of all this, Jesus chose to entrust His life to God the Father.
One of my favorite books is Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. There is a chapter entitled The Perfect Penitent, in which the author writes about the mystery of the Lord’s passion. He explains how “God can only share [with us] what He has.” For example “we love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it.”
He applies this to the passion of Christ. Up until the time of Jesus, God had not gone through the suffering, humiliation, and death of the crucifixion. This dying to self, which is what going back to God is like, is what repentance entails.
These words can be a little confusing. When I read them I can’t help but think, “Really, Jesus?”
Because we all know that when He said these words there was still the resurrection to come . . . all the ways the Holy Spirit comes to us . . . and even how Jesus comes to us in the Mass every day through the Holy Eucharist.
So what exactly was Jesus talking about when He said, “It is finished”?
You see, Mary is our Mother, whether we want her to be or not. God, our Father has made it so through His son’s words. He knew our need for a motherly presence in the spiritual realm. So, with His dying breath, “Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother’” (John 19:26-27).
It’s true! For a long time, even though I knew that Christ offered me forgiveness, I got tired of asking to be forgiven because I knew that no matter how hard I tried, I kept falling into the same sins. Even for sins that I committed once, I had a hard time receiving His forgiveness because I didn’t feel worthy of being forgiven. Even after going to confession, I still felt guilty and ashamed for what I had done because I didn’t believe enough in His mercy.
Jesus Christ is both justice and mercy. The Law of Moses required for the woman to be stoned; He didn’t fail to invite others to stone her. He even opened up the opportunity for others to condemn the woman, but only if they met the qualification that He knew no one (besides His mother & Himself ) could meet: “let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).
Among all the people that were present, Christ could’ve immediately condemned her by His own standards. But He did not condemn her; He showed her mercy.
As a teenager, my neat little idea of home was damaged and changed by my parents divorce. So many people go through life feeling homeless. Many people, through loss of job or one unfortunate event after another, end up with no place to live. Even people who live in big houses may still feel like they have no home. Other people, who feel like no one in their house really knows them or understands them, feel as though they have a house but no home.
Instead of going into the chapel and pouring out my thoughts or trying really hard to hear Him, I’m just sitting in the silence. His calm, gentle, strong voice always comes to me if I submit to the sacred silence in the chapel.
If I can’t make it to the chapel, I can sit in silence with God in my room. My reflection this week on my silent time has flowed nicely with my reflections on not speeding.
What I’ve learned this week is this: I don’t always have to set the pace. Whether it be in the car, in the hallway, or in the chapel – I can take my time. I can slow down. I can breathe. I can listen to His heartbeat, and strive to live my life to the rhythm of that heart beat. Let God set the rhythm, and experience the freedom that it offers.
Lent is the Church’s ‘spiritual wake up call’ to us to prepare for Easter and to remind us that we need to die to ourselves. Dying to yourself means dying to your own selfish wants, pleasures, desires, etc., in order to better focus on what God wants for you in your life. Lent is a great time to re-prioritize.
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrews 13:16
“Excuse me, you’ve got some dirt on your head.” Every year someone says that to me on Ash Wednesday. Maybe it has happened to you too. In the past it used to frustrate me, but in recent years I have come to see it as a great opportunity to evangelize, to share with someone about the most important person in my life: Jesus Christ.
The celebration of Lent, in the context of the Year of Faith, offers us a valuable opportunity to meditate on the relationship between faith and charity: between believing in God – the God of Jesus Christ – and love, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and which guides us on the path of devotion to God and others.
Every year since I’ve been a Catholic (five years and counting!), I’ve really loved coming up with different challenges for Lent. One year I gave up eating any meat, last year I read the bible for 30 minutes straight each day no matter what, you get the picture . . . Over the years I’ve come to realize that it’s not just how much we give up or what extra stuff we do, but it’s about the quality of your sacrifice and what you decide to do.
How about giving up some of your time and using it for prayer? In fact, let me make the ultimate suggestion . . .
Ready to move beyond just giving up chocolate? Last year we gave you 25 Creative Ideas for Lent. This year, we wanted to expand upon that list. Except, if you know us, you know we like to make things a bit . . . well . . . more interesting. So here’s a list of weird things to do for lent. The best part is that even though they’re a bit odd, they will actually help you to be holy! Don’t eat the last bite of your food Park at the very back of the parking lot Put a popcorn kernel in your shoe Read more [...]
Editor’s Note: I never guessed 40 days could fly by so fast! But here we are in Holy Week and I’m not so sure my heart is prepared to fully enter into the Triduum – the most epic time of year for us as Catholics. What about you? Are you prepared? If you feel like you need a recap of this journey through the desert we just took, listen to Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homilies from the last couple weeks. If that sounds boring to you – you’ve never heard this holy man preach! Just press play . . . you Read more [...]
Then it happened. In a moment of weakness and stress, I found a Coke and failed my annual challenge once again. I was really frustrated. This was supposed to be the year that I finally got it right, the one Lent that I could finally prove to God and to myself that I could do it. I spent a day or two so frustrated that I couldn’t bring myself to pray. I couldn’t face the God who suffered and died for me when I couldn’t give up a freaking soft drink.