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Every Lent we are invited to undertake a journey of self-discovery and growth. The selection of readings serves as signposts to guide our journey prompting reflection so that we enter ever more deeply into the heart of God, and become our truest selves.
The readings for Year B are rich and varied, but there is a scarlet thread, that brings them together and that is the underlying theme is God’s amazing, patient and generous love. This love finds its culmination in the gift of Jesus who is lifted up that we might live. There is a consistent honest recognition of our failure in both the Old and New Testament readings, and, at the same time, clear statements that are meant to encourage us — reminding us that God’s hope in us never fails. The importance of this cannot be overestimated. All too often Christians fall into the trap of thinking that it is by the means of our response that we will merit or earn our salvation. While we must do our part and respond faithfully to God’s invitation, the readings call us, first of all, to give thanks and respond with faith because of the extraordinary grace that has been poured into our hearts and the world. It is, and always was, a glorious gift given as Paul while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8).
The rainbow after the flood is a sign of hope — even if it is a consequence of human frailty. It signals God’s commitment to us, and provides the reminder that without hope we will not be able to undertake the journey of faith as it unfolds in the complexity of our lives. The cross, too, is a sign of human weakness, but even more it is a reminder of God’s unflinching pledge of love that will never be withheld. On one level, the cross is the result of sin and weakness. It looks like foolishness. But, at its deepest level, it is about love that is not withheld or impeded by our frailty. We can do our worst and give up on others and ourselves, but God never gives up on us.
Yes, the grain of wheat needs to die, but the furrow has already been plowed, the cross lifted up, and the Son’s life freely given. There is always a way home to our deepest selves and to the fullness of life God wants for us all. Let the journey begin!
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