Easter 2022 will be the third Easter where we have had to be aware of COVID and its impact on our lives. When talking with people about their lives they are certainly weary of what the past two years and now three Easters have been. At the same time they expressed a caution that as much as we would wish it otherwise, the pandemic is not over, even as some restrictions have been lifted.
Some have spoken about the similarities between Lent and COVID. They have said that their lives have, by necessity, had to have a focus that may have been lacking before; that in their lives they have had to reflect more carefully about purchasing things and services, did they really need them; about reflecting on their relationships with others, remembering that we live in a society and not just an economy. This is all good Lenten fare. A time where we do examine our lives and actions more carefully and try to get out of lazy habits which may not bring life to ourselves and others. All the time cooperating with the always available abundance of the grace of God to assist us in moving from shadow to light, from fear to hope.
As I often say to our catechumens, those preparing for adult baptism at Easter, we need you to remind us of what Lent is all about and whom we place our trust.
Elections, at least here in South Australia, will bookend Easter this year. Often election campaigns style themselves in terms of “whom can you trust to: do a better job; run the economy; build a better more just society etcetera”.
One of the graces of Lent for me is that it actually answers the question, ‘Whom can you trust with a resounding answer, namely the Trinity, the One God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Lent reminds us that we are not what we do or even what we have, but rather before anything else, we are sons and daughters of God, made in the image and likeness of God; sisters and brothers with Christ; people in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. Lent with its heavy focus on baptism seeks to do this. What if we were able to internalise and live this reality. What a different person we might be, what a different world we might live in, what a better church we might be for the world.
Least we think life is all about us, Lent provides us with a foil; provides the pin to prick the bubble of self-sufficiency that we love to live in. Humans can never be independent, rather we are made for inter-dependency. One of the illusions of our age is that each person is independent. Lent helps us to dismantle the illusion that we are independent of everyone but ourselves.
In recognising that we are inter-dependent on others, on God, on the whole of creation actually frees us to live with a freer and more noble heart and allows us to live with a deeper trust in God the Father who created us, the Son who redeemed us and the Spirit who dwells in our hearts and who sustains us.
A few months ago it was suggested by a friend of mine to watch a certain YouTube clip about something or other. The whole YouTube scene can be a little cut-throat in terms of garnering subscriptions and trying to stand out from the crowd. One of the features of this channel was the quirky saying that were played strategically on the wall behind the presenter. This one said ‘Remember why you started’. It is a great epithet to apply to us missionary disciples of Christ. And that is what Lent helps us to do. To remember why we started, and who got us started, and thus where we are going and who goes with us along the road. I wonder if we would not be happier, more content if we did this.
In this article I have focused on Lent more than Easter with the hope that as the grace of Lent unfolds in our lives it will be redoubled and amplified in the Great 50 days of Easter where we boldly state ‘Christ is Risen, and Risen indeed’. We shall be ‘Easter people’ as St Augustine calls us, if we remember why we started.
Our prayers and thoughts remain with the people of Ukraine at this time. May the Risen Prince of Peace draw us into peace and being peacemakers.
A blessed Easter to all. May it be a time of grace and light and may the burdens that afflict us be lightened though the gift of the resurrection of Christ, in whose life we share.
God is good, good indeed!