Season of Lent
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence.
Lent is a special time of year, because we start to see the seasons changing. Plants and animals seem to have more life in them and even we begin to throw off our winter weariness and move with a greater freedom. We notice the colours starting to emerge after the greyness of the winter light and the sun begins to have a little warmth in it again. Faith too can take on a freshness as we emerge from the post Christmas doldrums.
Faith is described by Sacred Scripture as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. That does not mean that it is about believing in something we do not understand, on the contrary we believe because we understand. Faith does not take over when knowledge fails us, rather faith is only possible once we have come to knowledge.
The readings this year in Lent especially those from John’s Gospel speak to us of the new insight that comes to us from faith, but also of faith coming from knowledge The knowledge of faith is not the result of a mathematical equation or the only logical outcome of a series of deductions, nor is it even the reality of the law of physics. It is the knowledge that comes when we know a person, the understanding that flows from having taken hold of the life of a person and that person is Christ. Faith is then how we live our life having encountered Christ and having come to know him. We all know the devil’s temptations of Christ, we know them one way or another in our own life and we know too that the only reason we have for rebutting them is our faith.
Sometimes the temptations make perfect sense in our world, but faith reveals to us a different meaning of life because we have understood there is something more to life than is presented to us in temptation. The Transfiguration shows us what the glory that is hidden in everything around us because God is present with us and in that knowledge faith becomes something lived. The Samaritan woman comes to faith as Christ gradually unfolds for her the truth that has always been there but that until she met Christ she has failed to realise, just as the blind man is given sight to see what he and others could not see and because he can now see he believes. Lazarus is raised from the dead so that the glory of God might be revealed. What sense does the cross make to us if we do not have faith, but we can only have faith if we first have been shown by the Holy Spirit the truth of Christ and the glory of God revealed on the cross so that Christ can show us a world that is redeemed even as we live in a world that is still shrouded in death.
Lent is a time for us to wipe away from our eyes the sleep that deadens our vision so that we can see clearly the hope that is ours and the joy of God’s glory come to meet us. We do not believe because we cannot understand, we believe because we have understood.