Fifth Sunday of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
Each year when February comes around so start the conversations amongst ourselves of what one is giving up for Lent; what one is going to do differently for 40 days; what sacrifice will one put themselves through to participate in Lent as our faith calls us to. “What are you giving up for Lent?” Maybe it’s candy, chocolate, caffeine, meat, or making the commitment to attend daily mass, go to reconciliation, spend more time in prayer and reflection.
I would like to propose asking the question, “what are you giving up for Lent?” in a different way. Consider asking yourself “how do I plan to allow myself to be transformed during lent?” What do you need to sacrifice to allow God to transform you? How will the actions of giving up candy, chocolate, caffeine or upholding the commitment to attend daily mass, going to reconciliation spiritual transform you?
In the first reading today, God is calling us to personal transformation. We are invited to let God into ourselves. To let Him make a path in through our past and brokenness so that new life might be created for the future
“Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way in the wasteland, rivers.”
God is calling us to learn from our past—identify the things that diminish our capacity for life and love. He is inviting us to the things that give us life—that allow us to flourish. During Lent, we are called to let go (sacrifice) the things that diminish our capacity to move forward and to identify what gives us life so that we may use those life-giving things to be transformed.
We are not left without broad instructions on how to go about engaging this call to transformation. The second reading teaches us that this transformation –this call to being new—is through Christ.
“For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…”
We learn from the second reading that as Christians we called to pursue God’s upward calling in our life and that involves leaving behind those life-diminishing things.
“Forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus. “
Luckily, the Gospel today provides us some insight on this path we are called to pursue for the prize of God’s upward calling—humility.
Humility is from the Latin word, humilis—“of the ground.” If you notice in the Gospel reading, no one bends down to see what Jesus writes in the ground. They remain standing, asking for his permission to stone a woman so they could have some charge to bring against him. They were so concerned with openly humiliating him. Jesus in turn called them to humility by challenging them “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
God invites us to the ground during Lent to learn important truths about ourselves and explore the places within ourselves that we do not want to. Lent calls us to our brokenness and challenges us to engage in the humble work of reconciliation. God invites us to discover our true selves. To do that, we must remove what prevents that—our sacrifices—and identify and enhance the things that allow us to flourish.
As we enter the 5th week of Lent, approach Holy Week and anticipate Easter, how have you been transformed? How have you let God into your life, through your brokenness, and engaged in the humble work of reconciliation?
Jenny Mohan is Director of Social Ministry at St. Francis Xavier College Church.