Our Lenten Burial
By Catherine de Valence – This morning I thought of my late father whom I loved, and still love, very much. We were close but one thing that got in the way of our relationship was our pride. We hung on to our right to be right to the bitter end. When I went to Mauritius on holiday to see him, we had a disagreement over the amount of bread rolls we should take on a picnic.
That was the last time I saw my dad; he passed away suddenly, without having had the chance for peace and reconciliation.
My mom and I also parted on bad terms when I last saw her. She went into a coma while on a holiday and I lived to regret not having had a chance to say ‘goodbye’, ‘I love you’, ‘I’m sorry’, ‘please forgive me’, and ‘I forgive you’.
We always think that we will have time for reconciliation, but sometimes this time is taken from us and we must live with regrets.
We must not let pride, stubbornness, ego, misunderstanding, jealousy, envy, anger, prejudice and false judgments, disobedience, adultery, gossip and slander cloud our minds and harden your hearts. We can so easily fall prey to these weaknesses when we are misjudged and misunderstood, when we give in to negative reactions, experience financial difficulties or other threats to our circumstances, or are faced with illnesses, difficulties, stress and anxieties.
Our situations can alter our behaviour patterns and actions, especially when we try and work things out relying only on our strength and fail to surrender and lean on God’s strength. Let us understand others in the compassion of God’s Holy Spirit, in his love.
We are not alone, even when we are victims of persecution, or when we have been hurt and misunderstood by people in the Church. We are not alone when our dearest and nearest hurt or disappoint us.
Jesus endured those very sufferings for us; we are to do as he did and turn to our Father in heaven and pray for our enemies, as Jesus counselled in the Blessings of the Beatitudes (Matt. 5: 3-12).
If we can understand that the things we go through in life is to strengthen us in God’s unconditional love, patience, compassion, acceptance of self and others, we will accept, not reject, our trials and tribulations. Keeping our hearts hardened not only eats at us like a cancer, but it does the same for those around us.
Trying to say you are sorry for something you did not do, or forgive someone when you did nothing wrong is difficult, but that’s what Jesus did for us. He took our sins upon himself to spare us from condemnation, and promised: “There is now no condemnation for those who live in Christ”.
On the cross, Jesus said: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He said that knowing well that we experience weaknesses in our humanity, but he also overcame these weaknesses in his divinity, enabling us to also overcome our weaknesses. He died on the cross for us to be able to overcome these barriers of sins that keep us from being reconciled to our true selves, to others and to our Father in heaven.
Jesus acted as mediator between us and our heavenly Father, and he expects us, through his Holy Spirit, to do the same. We can be peacemakers to each other and for others, for in Christ we have been given the power to do so. If we find ourselves in the middle of two parties fighting and if we don’t know how to bring peace and reconciliation in our families, our relationships, our society and our world, we can call on the name of Jesus for help. God is faithful every time. I can testify to that.
Why give Satan what he wants (destruction, anger, unforgiveness, hatred and bitterness, hanging on to our hurts and our right to be right), when we can have what Christ died for us to have and claim: peace and reconciliation, forgiving hearts, unconditional love, compassion, mercy, acceptance of self and others. All that is required from us is the acknowledgement of our sins and weaknesses, surrendering them to God and to seek God’s love and strength through Christ Jesus.
I am privileged to be a witness of the amazing graces that God has bestowed upon us. In not running away from difficulties, but facing tribulations with Jesus, I have experienced his peace in spite of difficulties. I have experienced his unconditional love in spite of the unlovable, and have experienced his providence in poverty and his graces when I was less deserving of it.
I believe that in sharing our testimonies of God’s graces and compassion to us, his healing and help to us in time of need, we can reinforce the faith of his faithfulness to those in need of encouragement.
I pray that we may bury our sins and weaknesses at the foot of the cross, and rise up to renewed lives, new positive attitudes and gratitude for the beatitudes; so that we may use our past hurts to be a powerful intercessive tool for the glory of God; a God that heals all wounds and gives us unconditional love, mercy and compassion, no matter where we find ourselves in life.
We must share with others what God has done in our lives. Testimonies are our way of making a Lenten burial of our past, to rise up to renew the hope of God’s love to us and others in our world, and giving thanks and praise to God for all he has done for us.
Why argue about bread rolls when we can have Jesus, the bread of eternal life? We don’t need to take bread rolls with us if Jesus is our host at a picnic, for he gives us more than we need, to be physically and spiritually fed. We just need to bring ourselves, emptied and ready to be filled, and fuelled for good works. Updated from 2010