by Catherine Doherty.
Preparation for Lent begins with desire. Can you weigh desire? Can you measure it with a yardstick? Can you unwrap it and know the chemical content? No, my friends, you can’t. Desire is like a flame; it starts small and it grows.
We exist to desire the Desired One: God. As St. Augustine says, “Our hearts were made by thyself, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in thee.”
In this is the preparation for Lent: a desire deep down in the heart for God.
We come together because we desire him. Some of us come with only a foggy idea of him outlined in our heart. He seemed so tired; he had a cross upon his back. Perhaps some heard a hammer hitting nails that went through a human hand and turned away because of fear that maybe this would happen to them.
But Lent is a strange season. When you ask, “Where do you live, Lord?” Lent says, “Come and see.” If you had enough desire that you came toward him to ask the question, you will follow him.
And you will find a tree to climb, like Zaccheus in the Gospel, because following will not be enough—you will have to see him. Zaccheus in that tree drew the attention of Christ and heard him say, Come down, I will sup with you tonight. (see Lk 19:1-10.)
Lent is a moment not only of desire, but of hearing and touching, for in the days of the Gospel, when a guest came to dinner, you washed his feet, put oil on his head, and kissed him. So Zaccheus, in his passionate desire to see Christ, was allowed not only to see him, but to hear him and touch him. That is the beginning of Lent.
What happened to Zaccheus? He cried out, I will give half of my goods to the poor, and to everyone whom I have defrauded, I will pay back twice the amount. That is repentance. That is making right what was wrong. That is what we have to do, you and I during Lent.
Lent is also the moment of forgiveness. He who repents is forgiven. The weeks before and during Lent are weeks of deep thought.
From Season of Mercy, pp. 13-14, available from MH Publications.
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