Tuesday, March 13, 2018

4th Sunday of Lent: Laetare Sunday

“If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand wither. …”
“We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life, which from the beginning He had meant us to live it.”
“… but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.”

Our Lenten journey has arrived at its half-way point and today, we have been invited to rejoice. 
To rejoice, obviously, in the Lord, Who is the source of all our good and of all the goodness around us.
To rejoice, possibly, in the fact that there are only three more weeks left of Lent – with St Patrick and St Joseph to look forward to, who will enable us to break the journey for a while, and thus help us to persevere … …

There may yet be something else in which we are invited to rejoice, possibly less obvious, maybe even unexpected.  But today’s readings, and indeed most of the liturgy we have been celebrating since Lent began, seem to be calling us to rejoice even in ourselves.

St Paul reminds us that “We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life, which from the beginning He had meant us to live it.”  And during the week we were commanded by Jesus Himself to love our neighbour as ourselves. …
It is easy to understand such a command to mean that we must love others as much as, or in the same way and to the same degree as we love ourselves.  But could it also dare us to love others as OURSELVES? – that is, is who we know ourselves to be?  And if this is so, is the commandment not then, even more challenging?  For we are now required to first discover who we truly are, in order that we may indeed love our neighbour as ourselves?  We are dared to set out on a quest for authenticity – not to spend all our time self-absorbed by any means – but, nevertheless, to have that desire: to be true.

All the saints throughout history have understood that abiding in God: attending to His Word; immersing themselves in His love, has opened their eyes to the truth about who they themselves were.  And the world has been a better place because of them.

We could perceive this season of Lent to be a time when we set ourselves to giving things up; to restraining ourselves from indulging in habits that aren’t really good for us anyway.  A comfortable way to reassure ourselves that we are making an effort, perhaps???

Maybe, after all, Lent is more fundamentally a time for us to be more intent on knowing, on discovering the truth, about who we really are, in order for us to truly be who we are. … … …
And what might we discover if we dare to travel along that path???

            That you are God’s work of art;
            That He delights in loving you;
            That He has created you for goodness, for joy, for Himself;
            That He is waiting to be gracious to you, if you will only take the time to welcome Him into yourself and allow Him to speak to your heart (Who, after all, is the only One who truly understands all that you have to bear – the good and the difficult, and sometimes the bad and the awful)
            Allow yourself to believe in all that He has in His heart for you.

Abiding in this truth enables you to see truly, for His love is a radiant light and you are a child of that same Divine Light.  By embracing that truth and living from it … the world becomes a better place, because you are in it. 

What a very much more wonderful world it would be, if we only dared to believe.

A Hymn for Lent, by Richard Baxter (1615 – 1691)
            Lord, it belongs not to my care
            Whether I die or live;
            To love and serve thee is my share,
            And this thy grace must give.

            If life be long, I will be glad
            That I may long obey;
            If short, yet why should I be sad
            To soar to endless day?

            Christ leads me through no darker rooms
            Than He went through before;
            He that into God’s kingdom comes
            Must enter by this door.

            Come, Lord, when grace has made me meet
            Thy blessed face to see;
            For if thy work on earth be sweet,
            What will thy glory be?

            My knowledge of that life is small,
            The eye of faith is dim;
            But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all
            And I shall be with Him.

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