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How has your Lent been?
April 07, 2017

How has your Lent been?
Fr. Leo J. O'Donovan, S.J. at the Comedor in Nogales, AZ
When we remember the crucifixion of Jesus next week, we will be the more blessed the more we see the refugees and displaced persons of the world crucified with him.

How has your Lent been? 

Am I the only one who wonders how well, or indeed whether, I’ve followed the counsel of the gospel for Ash Wednesday to let it be a season of prayer, penance and almsgiving (charity)?  The collects of many Masses over these 40 days have reminded us of the traditions of retiring to our rooms to pray, chastening our bodies, giving to the poor.  It is a time to step back, reconsider, and yes, reform.

Next week, Holy Week, will present us again with a still deeper, hushed theme: the spectacle of Jesus entering Jerusalem for the last time and meeting there the final cost of his proclamation of the Kingdom of God.  He will not simply die in fidelity to his Father’s hope for the world but be veritably slaughtered, hung like carrion on a tree, for believing in the human heart.  Will we accompany him?  Few, if any, did those many years ago.

How has the Lent leading to these days been? How will the days following Easter Sunday be?  Will we try to “catch up” on the prayer and penance and love of neighbor we may have neglected in Lent?  Or did we perhaps live Lent with expectations that were in part misleading?  Were they perhaps too much about our prayer and our mortification and our good deeds?  Might not the week ahead retrieve some of the depth of Lent for us by helping us to forget ourselves as we watch, in stricken silence, Jesus taking up his cross?

Forget whether or not you “had a good Lent.”  Look at the Lord. See who may be carrying and then hanging on a cross with him.  Don’t be surprised if you see with him the millions and millions, the many, many millions, of families fleeing violence and persecution within their homelands or across borders into foreign lands straining to receive them with some, at least some—or all too often no—compassion.

When we remember the crucifixion of Jesus next week, we will be the more blessed the more we see the refugees and displaced persons of the world crucified with him.  Who will take those women and men and their so many children, his sisters and brothers and members of his body, down from their crosses, so that they may rise again in restored human dignity?  My concern for how my Lent has been will be accursed unless I care far more for Christ’s fellow sufferers.

Forgive me, Lord, if my heart does not break with yours for them.

                                                                                                                                   Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J.

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