They say “life is a marathon, not a quick sprint.” I think that is true although the older you get, the faster the days seem to pass. The same could be said of the holy season of Lent: it is a marathon to Easter!
Here we are past the mid-point of our Lenten journey with the finish line now in sight. How has it been going?
Living our Catholic faith takes practice all the time. And even when we fall, the true believer picks himself/herself up, dusts himself/herself off and carries on where he/she left off. A marathon with a goal, a finish line in view!
So it is with the holy season of Lent, that annual time of penance and grace the Church gives us. There are crosses and resurrections throughout these 40 days heading for the commemoration of Christ’ own cross and resurrection. Perhaps we started off on Ash Wednesday with the very best of Lenten intentions and plans. And we may have stumbled on the way. But we shouldn’t give up on what we hoped and wanted to do for the Lord. Get up, dust yourself off and carry on!
Maybe we didn’t pray as much or with the intensity as we had planned. Maybe we hedged a bit here and there on what we had pledged to ourselves to give up. Maybe we didn’t give to others as we had promised ourselves. Guess what? No one is perfect! The Christian life is about the long view as well as the short. Our goal as Catholics in the long and short term is to draw as close to Christ as humanly possible. And if we veer off course, the Christian gets back in the race.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, it was all cheers and palms and “Hosannas.” That’s where Jesus started in Holy Week. By Holy Thursday, it was washing feet and the Eucharist and off to Gethsemane. By Good Friday it was Calvary and the Cross and Crucifixion. By Easter Sunday, it was triumph and Resurrection, the tomb was empty. That’s where he finished. For Christ and for all who follow him, it was worth the trip.
So, no matter where Lent has taken you this year, continue your holy resolve and, if you have stumbled, be willing to pick yourself up and finish. Keep in mind the words of Pope Benedict XVI: “Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life (General Audience, March 1, 2006).”
“And Jesus said to all of them, ‘If anyone would come after me, deny yourself, pick up your cross daily and follow me’ (Luke 9: 23).” That’s the marathon … that’s where we start AND where/how we finish.