Happenings

Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent

Luke 4. 1-13
Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent
February 14, 2016
Kathleen Atkinson, osb

Let's start with a story: One day a pilot returned his plane to the shop with this complaint, "Unfamiliar noise in the engine." The next day the plane was back in service. The pilot checked the logbook to see what problem had been found. The entry read, "Ran engine continuously for four hours. The noise is now familiar."

It is so easy to become comfortable with the familiar, isn't it? Same place at table. Same committee. Same person elected. Same conversation telling the same story. Same type of reading. It's so easy to become comfortable with the familiar, especially because the focus of all this sameness is myself. I don't want to change.

But that's just not Lent.
In the first reading, the people are brought out of slavery with God's strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders.
Listen to those words: Strong. Terrifying. Power.
Change is frightening.
Is it any wonder we often prefer to stay in slavery?

In the responsorial psalm, we pray together "Be with me Lord, when I am in trouble."
To admit that I am in trouble is vulnerable. To acknowledge that we are in distress is frightening.
Is it any wonder we often prefer to pretend that all is "okay?"

And in the Gospel, we hear the story of Jesus in the desert.
Jesus faced temptation. He battled with the devil. He did not flee back to the familiar and comfortable.

To speak the dark pain of desert is frightening. To name distress is not popular.
To let my heart be broken open, to weep with sadness at the sinfulness of my living, to let God's terrifying power overcome my desire for comfort.
This is what Lent is about.

It's not neat. It's not safe. It may end in crucifixion.
It is Lent.

 

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