Lent offers us a time to examine your lives, to look deep within, to take inventory of our lives and see what is stuffed under our spiritual beds. However, how many of us really take the time to do this, how many of us look at Lent as just a time to give up candy or maybe attend a retreat.
I know for me, lent is one of the hardest sessions of the Church year. I find it hard to wrap my hands around the idea, ya I get that we are too fast and offer up our sufferings, but really, is giving up candy suffering? Is attending a retreat at Lent, as more of an obligation, really, what it is all about, I think not.
I think we have lost the true meaning of Lent, just as most of us have lost the true meaning of Christmas and Easter. The meaning somehow got lost in all the other stuff of life. The question, how do we get it back, what can we do, today, this week, the Lent, to get back the true meaning of Lent, Easter and yes even Christmas.
It is more than just attending a retreat or giving up candy because we are expected to. I have a friend who is a fallen away Catholic, who every Lent tells me, I can’t eat meat on Fridays, my question to him, why? It means nothing to you, why bother. His response, because we are not supposed to. See, it is not a question of devotion, but one of duty.
Yes, duty has a part in it all, but really is that why we sacrifice? Because of duty, is that why Jesus offered up his life, because of duty, I hope not! I hope it was because of love, a profound love of me of you of humanity.
Therefore, do we suffer out of duty or out of love for God, love for Jesus and love for humanity?
Lent offers us a time to heal our hearts, to look past the call of duty and forward to the call of Love. But to look forward to the call of love, we must first look to the past, to the hilltop with the three crosses. Yes, all three crosses are of concern for us. Jesus being paramount, but the two thieves offer up lessons on healing.
Two men were crucified at the same time as Jesus, one on his right hand and one on his left (Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27-28, Luke 23:33, John 19:18), which Mark interprets as fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53:12. According to Matthew, both of the “thieves” mocked Jesus (Matthew 27:44); Luke however, mentions that
39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 23:39-43
It is the good thief that teaches us about healing or hearts, he sees his wrongs, looks into himself and then asks Jesus to simply remember him. Nothing more, just remember him. The thief had not grand plan, no motive beyond being remembered. Yet Jesus saw his heart, healed his heart and gave to him the honor of being with Him in paradise.
The good thief practiced true suffering and repentance, all in the matter of seconds. Time is of no use to our Lord, our suffering can be days, weeks, years or seconds, it is all the same, true suffering is timeless. The good thief offered up his suffering when he stated “And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Do we truly believe we deserve our suffering, do we truly offer it up, or do we expect it to be just taken from us, with no action on our own part?
This Lent spend some time examine your life, and discover what you are called to do, what you are destined to suffer for. Read about the good thief, read between the lines of the passage, and find yourself in him. Can you offer up as he did, can you become the good thief?
God Bless & Happy Lent