4th Sunday of Lent 15.3.15 Perseverance
This Sunday is about the half-way point of Lent. When we are half-way to something we may need encouragement to persevere to the end.
We may have forgotten why we set out, and we are not yet in sight of the desired destination.
So we can lose hope.
This Sunday (Laetare) reminds us why we did set out and helps us to focus once again on the final goal.
The Israelites made a physical journey, which brought them both physical and spiritual freedom.
They were freed from the actual physical slavery of Egypt, and freed (if they took up the offer) from the spiritual slavery of sin.
The movement of the journey symbolises the change of status. Let us move from here to there – here, being the place of sin; there, being freedom from sin.
It is not a physical movement for us because all places on this earth seem much the same from a spiritual point of view.
For us it is a spiritual re-location, moving from habits of sin which we learnt early in life, and which we see everywhere around us – moving to a ‘place’ where there is no sin.
Well, we have never seen such a place – and that is just our problem with discouragement.
We might doubt that we can ever get there, being conscious of our own frailties and the general frailty of the human race.
So Our Lord comes and give us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink, food for the journey - heavenly food which will sustain us and give us the hope and courage we need to stay on course.
Our lifetime is often referred to as a journey. We are born; we travel for a while; then we die. (Birth to Death)
We could see another journey in this process: the moving from slavery to freedom. (Death to Birth)
This journey is much harder to trace as it involves a certain amount of back-tracking and zig-zagging! And it is harder to finish also, as sinlessness is an elusive destination.
But we see how good it would be to reach the land where no one sins. We all want to go to Heaven, which is such a place. But if we can why not make some Heaven here?
We need a lot of encouraging. It is possible if we really apply ourselves, but how much reminding we seem to need.
We see the Israelites had great difficulty both remembering why they had started on the journey, and also living by the new rules.
Forgetting and Remembering seem to be at the heart of the matter.
It is only when we forget our origin and our destination that we behave disgracefully.
When we remember we are humbled again and ready for anything.
This is one reason we have the Holy Mass, the Rosary and all the devotions. We say the same things over and over again because we need re-assurance. These things are always true and always within reach, but somehow we may not be looking or listening.
Is God harder to find than He should be? It is largely our own doing if it seems so. The less we sin the clearer He becomes; the clearer He becomes the less we sin… and so on.
If He hides Himself it is only to prompt us to search harder; also to remind us that we cannot settle in the desert. This is a pilgrimage not a destination. Anyone who seeks only earthly happiness has missed this point. We cannot stay here, and should not want to.
Instead we press on for the Land which is Promised to us, ultimately Heaven, and for this life as good as we can make it.