4th Sunday of Lent – 14th March
The image of Jesus suffering on the cross has often been one of the most confronting images in which we encounter a God who self-empties everything for our good. This is a very disturbing reality for most of us as we discover a God who is vulnerable and who can suffer with us and for us. There is a part of us that wishes to save Jesus from this suffering but there is also another part of us that recognises that our own personal suffering afflicts our own body. None of us is immune to the afflictions which can cause us mental, physical and spiritual pain. There is an acknowledgement that Jesus’ total offering of self for the good of another can help us to experience not only a deeper insight into our own life but also how we are called to become vulnerable to what seems unspeakable.
This reality can become part of our own Lenten experience. Through our own penance, fasting and almsgiving we discover that there is an inward desire to encounter God as ourselves. This can be about losing our false image of self which seeks to control outcomes, seeking quick fixes and listening all too easily to the solutions which are not meant for us. Lent ultimately seeks us to encounter God in our own poverty, powerlessness and frailty. This allows us to abandon our whole life into the loving embrace of God who does not seek counterfeit affection but an inward desire which wells up within us. This seeks for us to become real and become who God desires us to be.
So here we stand at Laudate Sunday hoping beyond hope that our lives are centred on the one person who matters. To discover in the midst of our daily confusion, struggles, sadnesses and the pressures of life that there is a God who sustains us in love, hope and peace. This does mean abandoning our plans but rather encountering a God who seeks to bring them to fruition with a graced awareness. The recognition that God sustains us when we make the first step. Thus, our mediation on the cross sees our own vulnerability in his own. That our lives are open to God who is all in all.
Fr. John Armstrong