Monday, March 27, 2017

Ready to Re-Lent?

It may be time to "evangelize the problem."


If your journey into the 40 days of wilderness known as Lent has not gone as planned this year, there's still time to re-boot.

Lent can be a rough season, an extended experience of bumping up against what seem like intractable issues. It may be a bad habit I still can't crowd out of my daily life, or an elusive good habit that just won't stick.  It may be a deeply disordered situation which has resisted resolution after weeks of prayer.  Or it could be worries about the suffering of loved ones.

Pope Francis provocatively challenges us to try a new tact when we encounter such obstacles: He invites us to "evangelize the problem." The idea is to look at the issue, the situation, or the condition and then courageously speak the kerygma to it. That is, the Holy Father advises that we announce the basic proclamation of the Gospel to the problem and thereby put the problem in its proper place--into the context of God's saving action in Jesus.

I imagine the conversation going something like this [fill in the blank with the name of your specific problem]:
  • "______, you have had a hold on my heart for too long. I cannot hang on to you and drag you through my daily life any longer. Therefore, I now hand you over to the Lord Jesus."
  • "It is Jesus Christ who now has a hold of you, ________. He will hang you onto his Holy Cross and drag you up the hill of Calvary with him.  He will take you into the tomb with him, where you will be unable to haunt me."

  • "And when Jesus rises on the third day, ______, you will be a figment of the phantom you are today.  The light of Eternal Life welling up from the empty tomb will transform the pain and shame and fear you have caused me.  The victory of Christ's Infinite Love will swallow up the sting of your previous victories."
This is the basic proclamation we need to announce to each of our problems: Christ has made--and continues to make--all things new.  Here and now, now and forever.

So spread the word: It's time to give up whatever has threatened to derail our Lenten journeys. It's time to "Re-Lent," to reclaim a fresh start, and to resume our journey to Jerusalem by speaking truth to that which most vexes us.

Keep hope alive and remember: God himself is literally dying to take up our daily Crosses....