Saturday, March 24, 2018

Prepare ye the way of the Lord

These days Fridays are as busy, if not busier, than the other days of the week. This makes it difficult to post a traditio. Nonetheless, I am more determined than I give myself credit for being, especially when it comes to this little endeavor, which I have dubbed Καθολικός διάκονος.

One of the reasons Fridays are so busy right now is because it is Lent. Each Friday of Lent my parish has a parish supper and then we walk the Stations of the Cross. When coupled with going to the gym after work, it makes for a fairly long day. Then there are those things that pop and take up time. The older I am the more I realize how finite I am, how limited and, therefore, how valuable is time. As the Smothers Brothers used to sing: "Whatever happened to time/It doesn't come around anymore/The last time I saw time/It was walking out the door." These are lyrics that make me chuckle and wince at the same time,

Yesterday, for reasons I won't go into, I was reminded of how weak and frail Christians are, especially when dealing with each other. I do not exclude myself from this judgement. In the context of Church, people often behave in ways that would be unthinkable in other contexts. I do not presume to know why this is the case, just that it is. I do know that such situations rattle the faith of everyone involved. Not infrequently, involvement in these kinds of things results in people just walking away, convinced that belonging to a parish, a congregation, participation in organized religion, is just not worth it. As a minister of Church I find this heartbreaking.

Pastoral ministry is not for the feint of heart. Serving is often painful and grueling. It also often joyful and rewarding. I have no doubt that the Lord wants all his people to trust in him even as we make our often less than stellar efforts to imitate him in our love for one another. As we prepare to enter what is for Christians the holiest of weeks and observe our high holy days, I pray that everyone who celebrates the Lord's passion, death, descent into hell, and resurrection may be renewed by the Spirit and empowered to serve Him more faithfully in the world at time when witnesses of God's great love for us are so badly needed. May this Holy Week be a time of renewal for each of us individually and all of us together.

Each time I have participated in and/or led Stations of the Cross this year, I have been struck by the prayer that comes at the end of the Fifth Station, which is the one we recall Simon of Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, who was forced by the Romans to help Jesus carry the cross. Whether Simon was already one of Jesus's disciples or he became one as a result of this imposition is impossible to tell from the scriptural account. But could easily be seen as a curse was really a blessing. The prayer reflects this:
Lord Jesus Christ, help us to see in the sufferings and shortcomings of our lives a share in Your Cross; strengthen and console us in the belief that we bear all things in union with You, who have taken upon Youself even our guilt
Our very late Friday traditio is "The Great Commandment" by Camouflage.

The great commandment, of course, is to love God with your entire being by loving your neighbor as you love yourself. May our participation in the Lord's passion, death, and resurrection be for us a re-education in love.

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