Lent & Easter
Lent & Easter Reflections:
Lent - Week Five
Reflection by CALGM Secretary Amity Buxton
“Thus,” says the Lord, who opens a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters… “Remember not the events of the past. The things of long ago consider not. See, I am doing something new. Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it? In the desert, I make a way. In the wasteland, rivers.”
As I listen to these words of the Lord, my mind indeed turns to the future, and I wonder what will spring anew as the Cardinals gathered in Rome listen to the Holy Spirit and discern “the way” through our present desert. May my—your-- our prayers join theirs to bring about the Lord’s doing the “something new” for which we thirst. Amen.
Lent - Week Four - Laetare Sunday
Reflection by CALGM Treasurer Emeritus
We call this fourth Sunday of Lent “Laetare” because of the opening antiphon that has been assigned to this liturgy for generations. It begins with the Latin word “Laetare,” meaning “to rejoice.”
“Rejoice, Jerusalem! Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her, you who mourned for her, and you will find contentment at her consoling breasts.”
Midway through our journey of Lent, we taste and see the goodness of the Lord who is already moving away stones so that our hearts and minds might be flooded with more light. Laetare Sunday encourages us not to lose heart, but to keep paying attention to what God is trying to tell us, show us, do for us.
It is sometimes difficult, yet today’s readings invite us to live in a place called hope; they invite us to continue our pilgrimage toward greater joy; they invite us to “taste and see the goodness of God.” Unfortunately, today’s gospel reading proves a bit problematic. We know the Parable of the Prodigal so well that we risk not hearing it at all. Perhaps we could begin by reminding ourselves of something we rarely pay attention to, namely, the reason Jesus tells the story in the first place.
“The tax collectors and the sinners were all gathering around Jesus to hear him, at which the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”
Jesus tells the story because the proprietors of religious life don’t like the way He’s acting. Jesus tells the story because the “insiders” are put off by Jesus’ spending time with people who are “outsiders.” The set-up to the story recalls something that we are quite familiar with as in our ministry to people of “sexual difference.” Religious (and even some political) establishments continue to perpetuate our outsider status, insisting in a variety of ways that Jesus cannot (or should not) be keeping company with us as we are. So, we could read this story as a condemnation of those authorities of the past, present, and future who deny certain people their place at the table. I’m not sure, though, that such a reading will help us live in the arena of hope or move us toward an experience of deeper joy. Why? Because it seems to water seeds of resentment. Because it presumes that we continue to define ourselves primarily in terms of authorities who do not know our communities as well as we do. So rather than go down that road, perhaps we might simply begin with this:
The Parable of the Prodigal insists that we must abandon forever the dynamic of “insider” and “outsider.” The Parable of the Prodigal insists that we must abandon forever the pattern of feeling good about ourselves only if others have been reprimanded. The Parable of the Prodigal insists that we must abandon forever the notion that there is only so much love in the world and that if we spend it too liberally, it will run out and there will be none left for us. The Parable of the Prodigal invites us to experience more joy by setting free the image of God that lives within us.
Lent - Week One
Reflection by CALGM President Sheila Nelson
What’s Lent really about? Maybe it’s less about self-denial than about owning who we are… remembering all that God has done for us… realizing that the words of Scripture are spoken to us today. Do we believe that “No one who believes in Christ will be put to shame,” that “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek”, male and female, slave and free, gay and straight… that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”?
Our CALGM Board Meeting closed Saturday with Father Bob Pierson celebrating Eucharist. In his homily, Bob reminded us that twice God powerfully affirmed Jesus: “You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased.” But these miraculous moments of clarity were immediately followed by darkness and trial: From his Baptism, Christ was led into the desert to be tempted; from his Transfiguration, Christ journeyed to his Passion and Crucifixion. What was it that enabled Jesus to remain faithful, to embrace his mission, the work he was born to do? It was his unwavering belief in his Father’s words, his knowledge that he truly was God’s BELOVED in whom God was well pleased. He had no need to prove anything to himself or to anyone else. Knowing who he was enabled him to endure all the difficulties and challenges of his life.
We are truly Christ’s Body. God says to each of us, “YOU, Sheila, Arthur, Amity, Jeep, Anthony, ______, are my BELOVED daughter, my BELOVED son; in you I am well pleased!” How different our world would be—how different our church would be—how different our families and homes would be, if we really believed this!
Go ahead and fast if you feel called to. But let’s all resolve this Lent, to listen to God speak these words to us each day: “YOU ARE MY BELOVED; in YOU I am well pleased!” And then let’s ask Christ to help us to live them… We believe, Lord! Help our unbelief!
Reflection by CALGM Resource Director Arthur Fitzmaurice
Have you ever had that feeling when a loved one dies and you can’t eat anything for weeks or even months? The thought of doing typical everyday things rarely enters your mind, because your heart is burning for healing. I think that is the kind of fasting God wants us to do. God does not want us to feel pain, but it is a reality that we will struggle in life. When pain is inevitable, God gives us a yearning to discover Christ in our lives. It is not just about giving up chocolate or beer for a month and a half; it is about our hearts burning for a deeper connection with God.
As we begin Lent, let us ask ourselves why we are fasting. Is it out of routine or guilt or the letter of the law? Or can it be about hungering to walk more closely with God? This Lent, let us invite God to be the center of our thoughts and our desires, even for five minutes a day. May we truly believe that God’s grace is enough for us to live through any fast. And may we support each other on the journey to the wedding feast.