Lent is a season to refocus or repurpose ourselves in this common faith. The season looks toward the Triduum, as a sober period that focuses on the movement of God in the world - namely the reconciliation of all people to God.
The season calls for reflection on the need of that reconciliation and my part in that need. This period though, isn't primarily about denial or self-flagellation, but intentional and deeper reflection. At the risk of sounding morose, let me observe that this period leads toward, or focuses on our own death; our own self-giving of ourselves for and to others.
Looking toward death, living in death is counter-intuitive in most societies. One of the more interesting ideas in some monastic communities is a reminder of the "moment of death." In these circles, this moment is to remind us that we are mortal and that no matter who we are or what we accomplish, we remain mortal. As mortal, we will all proceed to that moment.
All of us will proceed to that moment, but some of us will progress to that moment - our movement toward it will be characterized by living more and more in death. Our own death. And in that living in death, we will become more and most fully alive. This is one secret of the Christian life - that it is in dying that we gain life, real Life. Not at the end of our physical existence, but right now. Dying to ourselves is the only way to have - to experience here - real Life.
This is the Life of Jesus - self-given for and toward others so that they might both have Life and see the path to it. This is what Jesus really means when he says, I am the way, the truth, the Life. Yes, Jesus is God and we need to believe that on some level. More importantly though, it is his living death that is the way to the Father.
The Friday before Easter is called Good Friday, not Black Friday or Death Friday. Good Friday because it is in the death of Jesus that Life is secured for the world. It is in our death that we gain Life for ourselves and extend Life to others. You are, in this life, a Life-giver to others; a small Jesus; a little Christ. This season reminds us of the invitation of God to find Life by dying.
Joyously dying because in our dying, we declare with the heavens and with God himself that the path to home is in giving Life to others. We do this with relish, with gusto, with intentional desire not only to gain Life, but because we are Living in death.
Take the time to refocus. If you do, you will even more be prepared to rejoice on Easter morning when Life really does erupt from death!
This is Lent.