“Our transformation into Christ is brought about by the Holy Spirit
in union with Mary, because this transformation is the continuation of the work begun on the day of the Annunciation.”
Blessed James Alberione
As we continue the forthcoming Lenten journey we are reminded of Pope Francis’ to make of our whole “life a pilgrimage of loving transformation”.
The season of Lent gives us the opportunity to contemplate Jesus, who died in order to give us life. The self-giving of Jesus, portrayed in a powerful manner on the cross, is at the centre of our reflection and attention. The cross becomes the symbol of the depth of Christ’s love for us and his desire that we should receive the gift of his divine life. At the same time, the contemplation of the crucified Christ throws light on our own experience of suffering and gives it proper meaning. Our suffering and the sufferings of the whole world are seen as a continuation of the passion of Jesus and as a way in which we are associated to the mystery of salvation and life. All this will lead us to be more sensitive to the sufferings of others and to reach out to them (The Daily Missal).
As we daily live our lives at various levels of involvement in our ministries, our relationships, our vows, our lives lived in families/community and our ongoing and growing relationship with God we are faced with many challenges. Sometimes we are able to hold all things together and our lives are well balanced. At other times life is messy, murky and confused. We seem to be lost at some deeper level that causes us suffering and alienation from God, self and others.
It is in the midst of our daily lives and in our daily sufferings that God comes to us. Our sufferings can be physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual. Our sufferings can make us feel lonely, isolated, distant and anxious about so many things. At whatever level we suffer we will know the pain that it brings to our lives and in the midst of our pain we can feel estranged from God and his love for us. Yet in calling us he says;
‘You are important to me, I love you, I am counting on you’. Jesus says this to each one of us! Understanding and hearing this is the secret of our joy.
Feeling loved by God, feeling that for him we are not numbers but people; and we know that it is he who is calling us.” Pope Francis, Rome, 6 July 2013.
During this season of Lent, no matter how we suffer and bear the consequences of it, we are called to return to God, ourselves and others in confidence that He is waiting for us. In fact, He not only waits for us but when He sees us in the far off distance He runs out to meet us with a heart bursting with compassion. Luke 15:21
The invitation to make our whole “life a pilgrimage of loving transformation” can only begin and deepen when we know God the Father desires our return. We cannot transform our own lives, behaviours, attitudes or value systems without Him because to do so will lead to despair and desolation. Transformation and change will entail suffering at various levels but we are not called to remain in the suffer but to focus on the person of Jesus to unite our suffering and the sufferings of the whole world and see them as a continuation of the passion of Jesus and as a way in which we are associated to the mystery of salvation and life.
What are the areas of suffering I experience in my life at this time?
How do I see them as a means of transformation?
How do I see them as a continuation of the Passion of Jesus?
Lent and the lead up to the great feast of Easter can be seen as a time of fasting and then feasting… as we embrace our individual and communal fast in preparation for our feasting I offer the following reflection for our consideration. This is a notice posted in a church entrance.
Fast from criticism, and feast on praise.
Fast from self-pity, and feast on joy.
Fast from ill-temper, and feast on peace.
Fast from resentment, and feast on contentment.
Fast from jealousy, and feast on love.
Fast from prize, and feast on humility.
Fast from selfishness, and feast on service.
Fast from fear, and feast on faith.
Fast from gossip, and feast on the integrity of othrs!
This fasting and feasting is good for the spirit!
Sr. Bernadette Duffy