February 24, 2021
by Fr. Andy Alexander, S.J.
Creighton University's Director of the Collaborative Ministry Office
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the First Week of Lent
Lectionary: 226

Jonah 3:1-10
Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19
Luke 11:29-32

Praying Lent

The First Week of Lent - February 21-27

Lent with All My Heart

"at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here."
- Luke 11

Webster's Dictionary's first definition of the word, "to repent" is: "to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life." This is a good way to look at Lent. This is a time for our "turning" from a pattern, or many patterns that we know inside are self-defeating and standing in the way or our deeping relationship with Jesus. It is a time to "dedicate" ourselves to this "amendment" of our life. And, of course, it is a time to begin to practice and let new patterns take root in us.

That's why giving up something superficial won't make much difference in us during Lent. This is an opportunity to let God grace us with a much deeper transformation. We all know how difficult change is. Most of us resist it mightily, and even avoid the one who offers us change - even change that will make us happier, freer and more like Jesus.

So and early Lenten step is to recognize and name my resistences - the places were I'm well defended and resist change. Most times, I'll readily give up candy or alcohol before I look at deeper change. When I confront my resistences, placing myself in the loving embrace of Jesus, the door to grace opens and Lent becomes a season of grace. I won't immediately become more patient, more compassionate, better at dialogue and full of mercy, overnight. I won't immediate begin grieving at the plight of the marginalized and the poor, right away. But, experiencing Jesus' love for me will begin to soften me. I'll feel the contrast between old patterns and Jesus' way, the way of his heart.

Lent will become concrete. It may begin with an amendment of the way I feel about Pat and the way I respond to Pat. But, with time, it will broaden to others and to "my way" in a much bigger context. Eventually, as I open the door more and more, I'll feel a softening in my heart. I'll start hearing the news differently. I'll feel my "tribal" urges melt away in favor of a more compassionate relationship with all my sisters and brothers.

All of this prepares me for Holy Thursday and its footwashing. Letting Jesus wash my feet is the culmination of my repentence. I hear Jesus call me to take up his example in washing the feet of others. It all comes together, as we experience this as Jesus' invitation to us into the mystery of the Eucharist, his self-giving on Good Friday, and the gift of new life at Easter.

Giving ourselves to this transforming during Lent gets us there. May our Lord, whose desires for us are beyond our imagining, open our hearts to a powerful sense of Lent this year.

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