In the Letter to the Hebrews the author writes: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.’ Yesterday, while watching the funeral Mass for Justice Antonin Scalia the Celebrant/Homilist (who happens to be his son) spoke these words. I was struck with just how profitable this line is for our Lenten journey. What the rest of Fr. Scalia’s homily was about I have no idea – these words took me into reflection.
As faithful we know that Christ is eternal and never changing. But sometimes it might slip our minds that our life in Christ is eternal – we too have ‘been’ yesterday, ‘are’ today, and ‘will be’ tomorrow. But whereas Christ is never changing; we should be changing. The big question within each of us is whether we are comfortable that how we were yesterday, and are right now, is the way we want to be tomorrow.
Brothers and sisters, our journey from the age of reason to our death is one of correction and growth. Correction for the failings that we succumb to and sometimes wallow in. Corrections that allow us to both: grow in our relationship with He who created us and continually loves us; and grow in our relationship with those that He loves as much as us – each other.
Lent, more than other seasons, is a time of increased inward correction and intense conversion. The time to put behind us that person of yesterday and become the person that God created us to be for eternity. It is a season of action, our action. Whereas Christmas is primarily about God’s action in coming to us; the Sacred Triduum is primarily about His action in redeeming us, and Easter is primarily about His action in destroying death and opening the gates of heaven for us; Lent primarily is about our action in accepting these actions that God did for us and making them a reality in our lives.
Holy Mother Church urges us that our Lenten actions should follow the millennia honored path of penance, prayer, and almsgiving. However, as we journey through Lent let’s not get caught up in the Lenten exercises of penance, prayer, and almsgiving if that is all we think this season is about; that these are the goals of Lent – because they are not. Our actions of penance, prayer, almsgiving are the tools we use today to reach the goal of moving past who we were yesterday and embracing who we should be tomorrow. Our actions should be enwrapped in the desire of coming closer to who our Heavenly Father created us to be – ‘made in His own image.’
On Ash Wednesday Holy Mother Church uses two proclamations; neither of which is ‘Make sure you do penance, prayer and give to others’. They are: ‘Repent, and believe in the Gospel.’ and ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ They are proclamations that help us understand who we are now. During this Lent, let’s strive to make sure our actions aren’t our goal, but that they move our hearts and minds in the correct direction.
Let’s make sure that today we are moving from our yesterday to God’s tomorrow.