Daily Reflection
March 23rd, 2005

John Schlegel, S.J.

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Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 69:8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34
Matthew 26:14-25

As we approach our prayer this day we are mindful that today is the last day of Lent. Tomorrow begins the great triduum of our salvation. Our prayer and reflection, therefore, should be both prospective and retrospective: where have we been and where are we going? Where has this great season of grace taken us? And what opens before us?

I have always viewed Lent as a “harbinger of springtime.” Spring is a time to witness and experience the renewal of the earth—at least in the northern hemisphere. Whether a bit early or a tad late, Lent rolls into springtime. Spring is a time for planting and re-greening, a season of new growth.

So what have we planted these five weeks of Lent that will blossom forth as the warmth of the resurrection embraces us?

Over these last five weeks we have listened to the voices of the great prophets roll across the world of the Old Testament. We have followed, watched and listened to Jesus across his public life. These prophecies and passages will find fulfillment in the events of the four days that open before us.

So what have we planted? What have we experienced? What have we desired this Lenten season?

Across these weeks God had something for us to hear, to learn and to change. Were we ready to hear, to learn, to act? Did we, indeed, hear, learn and act?

• What did we plant that can grow and green?

• What of our desires over these days, were they enlivened and deepened and focused?

• What of our honesty? Was it tested or strengthened?

• Did we adjust or break old patterns so as to find new ways of meeting and caring for God and others?

• How did we experience the “freedom of the daughters and sons of God?” Did we grow in this new found freedom? Or was it business as usual?

• Self-discipline is a staple of the Christian Lent. How did we fare? Fasting and feasting across Lent is always a tension.

As we pray today, be mindful of today’s scripture passages. If you can echo Isaiah in the third servant-song: “I have not rebelled, I have not turned my back” on the Lord God your Lent has been successful. If you can stand before God and say: “See, the Lord God is my help, who will prove me wrong?” Your Lent has been fruitful and you have planted well.

In the passage from Matthew’s gospel, as the disciples partake in their last meal before the great trial, we hear Jesus say: “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” If you can say with the eleven, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” Your Lent has been fruitful! You have planted well.

But it is the response to today’s Psalm that should be the prayer that bridges this last day of Lent with the high holy days of Christianity: “Lord, in your great love, answer me.”

Answer my cry for help; deliver me from sadness; purify my desires; expand my generosity; enliven my compassion; strengthen my faith; forgive my sin; give me a forgiving heart and give me a joyful hope.

“Lord, in your great love, answer me!” Give nourishment to these Lenten seeds planted so carefully (or casually) these past weeks. Or as Hopkins wrote: “Give my roots rain…”

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