Half in and half out of Lent! Yet, the Gospel story, about the leper who Jesus healed that we hear on the 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time, already begins to prepare us for the Lenten journey.
In her commentary for this Sunday, Sr. Mary McGlone invites us to recognize what we share with the leper in the Gospel: “Since his condition was obvious, society ordered him to hide away from sight. We, on the other hand, are quite adept at hiding our weakness and the unsightly, sinful aspects of our life. Perhaps the worst of it is that we can hide them from ourselves, believing in the image we project rather than the truth of who we are. Our friend the one-time leper would remind us that Christ can only touch and heal what we bring before him; if we don’t bring our genuine self, we will never truly encounter Christ. He might add that we never hear of Jesus reaching out and touching someone who was self-sufficient, but only those who knew they needed him.”
Is that message not what we aspire to do when we approach Lent, to bring our truest and deepest selves before God? To present ourselves and become clay in the potter’s hand and thereby, embrace metanoia — conversion to what life with God is truly about as we profess our faith and commitment.
In this month’s lead article (pages 7-9), Fr. Charles Bouchard suggests that the seasons of Lent and Easter provide us the opportunity to begin the process of reflection and preparation for death. It is a journey we all eventually take. And, we will take it as our true selves, without possessions or accomplishments. As Lent begins, can we admit our need of God as the leper did before Jesus? Can we accept the author’s advice? “As Christians for whom death is ultimately an adventure in Christ, we must keep death ever before our eyes, as St. Benedict says. This is not an act of morbid preoccupation, but an act of realistic faith in the promises God has made to us.”
Perhaps this Lent we can bring before God our genuine and truest selves assured all along God has known that self intimately, yes even from the womb. God waits for that full union that will come as we embrace faithfully the moment of our death.
Coming next month: In the lead article, Gertrud Mueller Nelson offers practical ideas for celebrating Lent through Easter. Additional material exclusively available online will include specific ideas for Holy Week and might be of assistance with parish education programs. Her familiar and beloved graphic art will be provided to enhance the two seasons.