February 15th, 2018
Lent 2018 begins
Lent begins with the words of the prophet Joel (chapter 2),
‘… Come back to me with all your heart …. Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn, turn to the Lord your God again, for God is all tenderness and compassion.’
The fact that we need to have ‘broken hearts’ is a reminder of the pain of being human. There are people who want, even expect, to get through life without pain. Our society suggests there are ways to combat all of life’s hurts, traumas and failures. However, objectively we can see that even if someone has led a luxurious and care-free life, there remains the shock of eventual death and decay. Once we recognise there is pain in every human life, we have started to consciously face the reality of trying to live meaningfully. There is pain at some time in every human relationship and indeed in our relationship with God. That latter pain comes from an awareness that while acknowledging the possibility of this Being who can manifest unconditional love, we cannot and do not show the same. Our love for others is limited and often very conditional. To recognise that and to admit to it is painful and yet the first step of our liberation.
Lent is a time when we are asked, as Christians, to be very aware of our limitation; not to wallow in self-pity but so that we can draw upon the well of love that flows from the Lord and thereby expand well beyond ourselves. Lent builds up to the great events of Holy Week, when we see that to give the most definitive help devised, his being with us in our greatest pains, Jesus allows himself to go through excruciating pain and humiliation on the way to revealing the fullness of life in a Resurrection that we are promised and that will also be ours; and when our broken hearts will be finally healed.
Stephen Power SJ
14th Feb. 2018