by Fr. Bob Pelton.
"Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tomb, lavishing life." (from a hymn we sing in Madonna House)
If you read this article in April springtime, amid the alleluias of Eastertime, it may not be clear to you who is in the tomb yearning for the life that only Christ can give.
As I write it in snowbound March, however, trudging daily the path of repentance, it is quite clear. In the lucid air of Lent, one can see with complete simplicity that you, I, everyone, is entombed.
Everyone who sins or who suffers from the effects of sin—disobedience to the Father, lukewarmness towards Christ, ignorance of the Spirit, the weariness of resentment, sickness, human cruelty, fear of death, any kind of fear—is still entombed (cf Rom 8:22-23).
That is one truth, not the greatest, but a necessary truth, brought to our attention every Lent.
The Spirit sends Lent every year to disturb us. He leads us into the desert with Christ to disrupt our comfortable truce with sin.
Who loves God with his whole being? Who loves her sisters and brothers as Christ loves them? Whose faith and works are so pure that he or she has no need to repent and believe the Good News?
Grief is part of Lent—grief for the reality of death, for the fact of our "wasting our lives in laziness" (as we in Madonna House admit each day in morning prayer), grief for the world’s brokenness and the Church’s, grief for the poor we can touch, and grief for the millions we read about.
But Lent is more than grief. Lent is learning that we will always fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23), that we will always have to begin again.
Lent is learning to remember that if, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…, how much more, having been reconciled to God through his death, shall we be saved by his life (Rom 5:8-10).
During Lent, the Father gently pulls back the curtain that we weave to hide our littleness and our need for him, our resistance and lack of faith. We protest, we draw back, we weep, we fall silent.
And in our silence, we learn to say more deeply, "Lord, have mercy. Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Lord, have mercy."
The Father holds us in his mercy. And held in his fathomless mercy, we learn to look more deeply at the cross of our Savior.
Its heart is Easter.
Lent is for the sake of Easter. During Lent, the Spirit leads us into the reality of our own entombment so that we can discover, at the very center of our darkness, the risen Lord Jesus.
Sin and death no longer have dominion over us, even if they fight against us till our last earthly breath.
Christ Jesus, the one enthroned at the Father’s right hand above all principalities and powers, is the Master of our life. He says to us, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go … baptize … teach. I will be with you always, until the end of time (Mt 28:18-20).
Easter is the Father’s plan for us. Christ has already nailed our sins and darkness to the Cross. He has already gone down into the tomb of every heart to cry out with his omnipotent voice, as he did at the tomb of Lazarus, "Come forth!"
Easter is the Father’s plan for the Church and for all nations.
Easter is happening even now in the midst of the darkness of our age. Everywhere there are little lights, little signs of hope. And even if the cold winds of catastrophe snuff out some of these lights, Christ will raise up new ones. And he himself has promised us ultimate victory.
Christ is risen, and he will lead us out of whatever catacomb human or demonic evil may fashion for us. His love will empty all the tombs.
Truly, Christ is risen. He is in our midst. He is and always will be.
—Excerpted and adapted from Restoration April 1986
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