In Mexico City, there is a monument known as the Ángel de Independencia, or the Angel of Independence, which sits aloft a tall spire, arm outreached to the square below, bearing a shining crown of victory, golden wings pointing toward the sky, all commemorating the independence of Mexico. Inside the monument, there is a winding staircase and to get to the top, you must utilize this staircase, which is small, dark, and seems almost endless. When you get to the top, however, you are greeted by a magnificent view of one of the centers of commerce and tourism in Mexico City, the Plaza Reforma and you realize that despite the work, sweat, and apprehension, the trip up the stairs was well worth the effort. This, my friends, is Lent.
Lent is hard work, but it is worth the effort. During these 40 days, we journey with Jesus Christ through the desert, and learn that “one does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Among our daily concerns and activities, we remember through the journey of Lent that everything we do and say must be focused on God, for from God we receive all our blessings and our very lives. In Lent, we seek to pray, fast, and give in order to reorient ourselves towards God and His Word.
Our Lenten sacrifices and journey would carry no meaning if we did not remember the reason for it all: the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. “The gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ” renews us and justifies us, and it is this sacrifice and gift of Jesus that gives Lent its fullest meaning. By journeying with Him in the desert for these forty days, we are led with Him to the Cross on Good Friday. From the Cross, we are led to His tomb, and from His tomb, we are led to the moment where our faith is ratified. Through the long dark staircase of Lent, which we climb together with Jesus Christ, we will come out into the glorious light of Easter morning. Let’s make the trip worth our effort, remembering that He is at the center of it all.
In what way, perhaps outside the “usual” Lenten sacrifices, can I pray, fast, or give, to make this Lent meaningful for myself and others?
A version of the preceding originally appeared in our parish bulletin.