Monday of the Second Week of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
On Thursday after Ash Wednesday a student in class asked me what I had given up for Lent. I responded: elevators! In fact, I had decided to do just that, but I never guessed I would be asked that question (and have to tell the truth). I know that a bit of physical discipline will be good for me…and good for others, to the extent I reduce thereby the carbon imprint by which I trash future generations coming after me.
I am not so sure, however, that this individual discipline alone qualifies for a Lenten practice. Although self-discipline during Lent is a positive thing, Lent is more about prayer and the giving of alms (generosity). It is these which help the whole community of Christians prepare and enter into the experience of the Passover of the Lord, within the great mystery of Jesus’s suffering, death, and resurrection. These shared practices help all of us together as God’s People to “passover” from our own narrowness into the great and wide open glory of the Lord. A glimpse of this was given on the mountain in yesterday’s Gospel (Lk 9:28ff), the second Sunday of Lent. Peter, James, and John “saw his glory.”
Today’s Gospel (Lk 6 36ff) also moves us toward what characterizes a community that prepares for the paschal feast: “Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate. …Pardon and you shall be pardoned. Give and it will be given to you.” To do that requires prayer and generous self-giving. And by the way, how well will we welcome new Christians and/or new Catholics of the RCIA into the Easter mystery, into new life and communion with the Holy Spirit?
Fr. Wayne Hellmann, O.F.M. is Professor of Medieval Christianity in the Department of Theological Studies.