Lent is a call to renew a commitment grown dull, perhaps, by a life more marked by routine than by reflection. After a lifetime of mundane regularity or unconsidered adherence to the trappings of faith, Lent requires me, as a Christian, to stop for a while, to reflect again on what is going on in me. I am challenged again to decide whether I, myself, do truly believe that Jesus is the Christ – and if I believe, whether I will live accordingly when I can no longer hear the song of angels in my life and the star of Bethlehem has grown dim for me. Lent is not a ritual. It is time given to think seriously about who Jesus is for us, to renew our faith from the inside out. It is the moment when, as the baptismal waters flow on every Easter Vigil altar we return to the baptismal font of the heart to say yes once more to the call of Jesus to the disciples, “Come and see” (John 1:39. It is the act of beginning our spiritual life all over again refreshed and reoriented.
I hear the inevitable moan every first Sunday in Lent.
“Why does Lent have to be so somber and boring?”
I invite those who ask this question to join me in looking at things from a different perspective, one that Joan Chittister describes. If we genuinely cannot participate in liturgy without the alleluias, it may very well be that the star of Bethlehem has grown dim in our lives and our churches. We very much need a time of refocusing before we can move on.
The reality is that we cannot be an Easter people without first being a Lenten people. The feasts are meaningless without the fasts.