On that old rugged Cross …
Lent? Joy? In the same breath?
I venture to say an enthusiastic “Amen!” since “Alleluia!” is improper in Lent.
Just a few minutes ago, I concluded a telephone conversation with a long-time and very dear friend, Msgr. Michael Eivers of the Miami archdiocese.
He mentioned an article (which he is sending me) about Lent penned by a woman author. She said that our Lenten spirit was a bit dark—all the emphasis on penance, fasting, reparation for sin. While all these are important, Msgr. Eivers told me that she said we might emphasize love during Lent.
What a joyous thought! The paschal mystery—the death and resurrection of Jesus—is all about love: the love that the Father, Son and Spirit have for all the errant children created out of love. That same divine love moved the Divine Son of God to assume to himself our own human nature. He was like us in all things except sin. He healed, taught, inspired and raised the dead—all because God does so love us. He went to the Cross because Jesus—in his human and divine nature, along with the Father and the Spirit—so loves us.
How can we not be overwhelmed with joy when we realize that at the darkest and most sinful time in our lives, God loved us enough to die for us? And that love never ends, never falters, never becomes conditional: “If you love me and obey me I will love you.” Never. Not at all. His love is everlasting. God is love. How can he not love?
Peg and I have lunch every Friday with two very dear friends. We laugh a lot. Maybe gossip a bit—but we’re always quick to say, “I’m not judging, just making an observation.” We do have some somber moments as we think about fellow parishioners who suffer in one way or another. Yes, we are sometimes somber, but always sober!
Msgr. Eivers knows a lot about joy and God’s love. He’s “retired,” but says Mass in the parish he built up from scratch. When he retired, among the accomplishments he, his staff and lay leaders achieved, were 800 people dedicated to perpetual adoration, more than sixty cell groups dedicated to evangelization and a liturgy which touched people’s minds and hearts.
I say he’s “retired” because this octogenarian has about two thousand people on his e-mail list for whom he writes reflections on the Scriptures, the saints and the truths of our Catholic faith. In the chapel in his home, he has a “Prayer Basket” which overflows with the names of people requesting his prayers. He has Peg’s and my name in that basket.
Lent—a season of repentance, to be sure; but were it not for our Lord Jesus Christ, we would know so very little about repentance, God’s love and the joy of knowing both salvation and our Savior.