Daily Advent Reflection
The College of New Rochelle
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
If we choose to embrace this awesome and humbling opportunity, we have to take a leap. Should we? Can we?
The second reading gets the last word: “Behold, now is a very acceptable time.”
Beginning Again….the Patterns of Easter: There is something ever gratifying, consoling even, and sustaining to begin the Lenten season each year.
From the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, through the 40 days that leads up to holiest of weeks, and Good Friday and Easter Sunday, all over the world, believers in the Lord, our God, proclaim our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and we announce our acknowledgement of his suffering and death on our behalf. When I was a child, going to Mass to receive ‘ashes’ was a momentous occasion. There was such planning involved because we had to be at the first Mass of the morning so we could have the cross of ashes drawn on our forehead, even now I think about the tingling sensation of the ashes fluttering down my nose and cheeks. We did this to show ourselves and the world “we are steadfast”, we are not hypocrites, we make the symbolic 40 day journey as with Jesus Christ.
But as a kid, while we understood the symbolism of the 40 day period, and we were anxious to show our devotion to Jesus’ sacrifice, at that time, and usually after much discussion, we also had to declare what we were going to ‘give up’ for Lent. This was a huge discussion in my house because what was given up not only had to be something bearable to live without for 40 days, but it also had to prove our commitment to the journey. Mostly, we gave up soda or candy. It was our way of showing that we understood what sacrifice was, and in a deeper way, a token of our comprehension of Jesus’ greatest sacrifice with his life.
Reading the Gospel for Ash Wednesday, I am reminded of the small ‘sacrifices’ we spent so much time thinking about when we were little, and to read Jesus’ words to his disciples, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.”, or “when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners...” I am reminded of how Jesus cautioned us that these acts of “show” have so little to do with how deeply we could even possibly recognize the gift He and his Father gave to us. We were saved. We live with a merciful God because he died for us. Somehow giving up sweets or treats seems so quaint.
Recently, about two years ago, I asked my friend, Father Rossi, what I could possibly give up for Lent that year that would seem worthy of the sacrifice before us on that Ash Wednesday. We were on our way over to the Campus’ Prayer Room to receive ashes and I was feeling the anxiety of what I could ‘give up.’ When I said I just couldn’t identify something ‘impressive’ enough, he stopped and turned to me and he said to me, sometimes it isn’t about giving something up, it can also be about incorporating a commitment of some sort into my daily life for the next 40 days.
Now that was something I pondered
That year, I chose a specific commitment to do every day for the next 40 days, and after those 40 days I continued to do it!
No need to share here what it was…but I think for the first time, I realized the profound depth of Jesus’ sacrifice for me. So today, to remember the words:
“Brothers and sisters: We are ambassadors of Christ……For he says: In an acceptable time I heard you and on the day of salvation I helped you….Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
I think I finally understand, today, a mere sliver of the profound greatness of His sacrifice