Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Lenten Season: Sharing our story, breaking the bread, and knowing our rising from the dead

Lent is a time for sharing in the great stories of salvation history and allowing our own stories to be drawn into this larger drama! Today's first reading from Mass (Est. 12: 14-16, 23-25) is a great example of someone who models for us how a personal story can transcend an individual and become a part of the great drama of salvation. Queen Esther finds herself and her jewish people between a rock and a hard place and appeals to the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph" for deliverance. She speaks of how she has heard the stories of her fathers about God's marvelous deeds and calls out to God as an "orphan." What Esther is doing, in essence, is pulling at God's heartstrings! She knows well that the great stories she has heard about God describe God as one who has a deep and abiding concern for "the alien, the widow, and the orphan." What Esther is also doing that should command our attention is modeling for us how we should approach the Lenten Season.

A great deal of emphasis is often placed on Lent as a time of penance, fasting, sanctification, and reconciliation. However, while all of this is true, what may be of even greater importance is participation. In other words, we enter into this great season of Lent year in and year out not to merely carry out acts of penance and reconciliation but to allow the "tributaries" of our lives to be more drawn into the "sea of salvation history". Like Esther, we are called to so identify ourselves with scriptural personas (i.e., the orphan, prophets, psalmists, Jesus, Apostles, etc...) that their great stories will become our own stories. Through the drawing of our stories into salvation history, new and deeper modes of communion with God, others, and all creation are realized. There's a wonderful refrain from a Christian hymn that perhaps sums up best what the Lenten Season is about: "We Come to Share Our Stories, We Come to Break the Bread, We Come to Know Our Rising From the Dead." Through the uniting of our stories to salvation history this Lenten Season, may all of us come to know more and more our rising from the dead through Christ, crucified and risen. Pat, TOR