March 08, 2011
The Journey Downward
The holy season of Lent begins tomorrow. I know that doesn't mean a lot to very many persons these days but for those of us who are striving to follow in the path of the Lord Jesus it is a most important time. This liturgical time in the church calls for us to give serious consideration to the direction of our lives. We are invited to join the Lord on a journey of descent; a journey that is foreign to most persons in our first world culture.
Everything in the world around us is calling for us to journey upward. How can I be successful? How can I make a name for myself? How can I achieve a reputation or greatness? What will give me the most prestige or position? All of the advertising that we take in through the media calls for us to have more, get the newest and best; it is all about power, possessions and prestige, the exact opposite of the temptations that Jesus faces in the desert during his forty days of ministerial preparation.
The call of Lent is for us to journey downward. And Jesus is the ultimate example of this journey. Not grasping equality with God to held on to, He humbles himself in human form to come among us. Born in a cattle feed trough, no place to lay his head while traveling in ministry and ultimately dying on a symbol of condemnation and punishment. His entire life was lived as an example to us of "letting go" "less is more" "journeying downward".
The challenge before us during this season of Lent: are we willing to walk this downward journey, which in reality is the journey upward to the Father? What can we do to get our "ego" out of the way, for it is the "ego" that is always looking to move up higher. The three suggestions of the scripture on Ash Wednesday give us a hint in the form of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
Each of these call us out of ourselves to focus on something other than ourselves, other than continuing to shore up our own personal self. In prayer we are asked to focus on God and God alone and surrender our will to His Will. In almsgiving, we are challenged to stop thinking so much of ourselves and think more of our neighbor, particularly those with whom Jesus most identifies, the poor and the needy. And in fasting we are called to think not so much of our own bodies and put our emphasis on anything that is other than the "self". Each of these will become for us important tools on the downward journey.
May your season of lent be fruitful for your personal spiritual growth; may you know the joy of surrender and letting go; and may your soul be prepared to walk the way of suffering and death that leads to a joyous Resurrection.
Posted March 08, 2011