As of this Sunday we have 14 days left in our Lenten journey. How has your Lent been? I hate the idea of categorizing it as “good” or “bad” – but rather lets say, has it been what you were hoping for? What about just life in general? Are you in a season that you feel good and comfortable ? If you are those moments are a blessing and can be so fleeting, so I hope you are soaking them up. But I would venture to guess that many of you have something weighing on your mind. Maybe an intention… maybe a person… maybe a situation…..maybe a choice. You have that thing that sits in the back of your mind begging for an answer. Big or small…. life altering or just a worrisome nagging thought… maybe there are two distinct choices and you have to choose a path or maybe there is no clear path forward at all. In fact you would love some choices. We are human and this place of concern is a natural state for us and our souls.
Today I would like to invite you all to spend some time identifying that thing. Really open your heart and pinpoint the concern, recognize the emotions, allow your self to really experience that thing. It doesn’t have to be for long, in fact I would really suggest only a set amount of time – but I think it is important to really sit with it. How do you feel? Lost? Sad? Confused? Scared? Are you wondering if that mountain you face is just too high? Or maybe you have started climbing and the middle feels even more overwhelming – can’t go back and too far to go forward? Are you tired? Is your mind laden with this thing and you find your body is following suit? When it comes down to the root of the issue – is your primary emotion despair… perhaps even anguish? It hurts my heart that you feel that – I am saddened for all of us walking around this broken world – trying so hard we are hurt or worse all out of the ability to even try. Please now that when I am at mass today I will pray for all of you reading this. But there is a very specific reason I call to you to pause and feel it.
These next two weeks are an incredible opportunity to walk with Jesus on his journey to the cross and Easter. Right now Jesus was in the desert – feeling all those things you feel. He was so overcome with fear and anxiety he literally left his whole life to go into the desert to fast and pray. While there he is tempted – by the actual devil to pack it all in and take the way out. He could turn those stones into food to fight off the hunger. Who would blame him? He could answer his own prayer to the father to not have to take this journey by simply returning to his life and going another direction. Palm Sunday, last super, the whole cross thing – nah! I think I will just take a pilgrimage instead. He could have done that…. but instead he spent those 40 days in the desert to get just enough courage and strength to take the step to say yes.
The Lord Jesus Christ was able to climb upon that donkey and travel into Jerusalem. There he would have the big dinner with his friends and share a powerful moment. You know that feeling don’t you? Just enough strength to show up to your day admits your personal battle: go to work, take care of your family, fulfill your responsibilities – while feeling so nervous, hurt and tired – but you do it anyway. Then we also know the feeling of not missing the important moments even if we are overcome with emotion. That last supper changes the course of history, that last meal he shared with those he loved most. Do you think Jesus was able to just turn off those fears? No – he knew what was coming, he knew that God was calling him right into the belly of the snake – and yet he sat there loving on his people. Giving them the memory they would need to cherish after he had left them. And for a real ounce of reality: Jesus was human, he knows the feeling of betrayal, being let down by those you love most. But there he sat still with them, loving them, sharing his last night – even though they would abandon him. These were his people and he loved them for who they were.
But here is a part of the story that gives me such hope…. such strength… he left the desert to go and fulfill his duty, but how far did he make it? Just through those couple of days and then he had to get down on his knees in the garden of Gethsemane and pray for more strength. Beg God to change his mind – Jesus has just used up all his strength of the 40 days to get here – couldn’t God please just let that be enough? He prayed so hard he sweat blood. All those emotions… all those fears.. all that we face that can leave us feeling paralyzed with fear – Jesus felt so deeply.
Suffering is hard. This life is tough. But I invite you all to take those feelings as a chance to share in the heart of Jesus. Are you lost? Are you hurting? Are you at your wits end? We can gather all of that and go sit with our Lord. We can feel what he felt…. we can pray with him…. we can travel the way of the cross and actually feel it. What a way to use this Lent for good? For hope….. because remember at the end of our 40 days, God shows his goodness. He saves us all.
Right now my own life has left me a bit wary. I am tired and mad and angry….. but in the strangest way I am honored and comforted that I can truly walk the way of the cross this year. Whether your Lent has been good or bad…. whether your life is calm or full of storms…. these next two weeks we have the most beautiful invitation to walk with Jesus. Join me in making it truly count.