Lenten themes deserve our reflection

By | March 30, 2011

Consider three passages from Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical letter, “On Christian Hope” (2007) that relate to the Sunday Scriptures.

“The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of new life” (#2, p. 3).

The man born blind in today’s Gospel lived in darkness. His future was dark both in a physical and spiritual sense. Lacking sight, this anonymous person could not see his family and friends, the sun or the moon, the colors and texture of the landscape. Spiritually, he faced that dark night of the soul where hope was fragile and meaning tenuous.

But then Jesus entered his life, Jesus who is the light of the world. A whole new life was offered as a gift. The future was filled with hope and this virtue meant that the blind man, now cured, would live differently. Here we are given a core Lenten theme: hope. No longer is time a dark door for believers. Rather because of Jesus’ offer to share in his life, we are able to have meaning and live differently.

“We have raised the question: Can our encounter with the God who in Christ, has shown us his face and opened his heart be for us too, not just ‘informative’ but ‘performative’ — that is, can it change our lives, so that we know we are redeemed through the hope that it expresses?” (#4, p. 5).

St. Paul encountered Christ and that meeting was truly “performative.” Paul was changed down to the core of his being. The grace of faith overflowed into hope and love. We have here a second theme of Lent: performative faith.

“She (St. Josephine Bakhati) was known and loved and awaited” (#3, p. 4). St. Josephine (1869-1947) was canonized by Pope John Paul II in the year 2000. As a nine-year-old girl in Sudan she was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Eventually, she was taken in by an Italian family and experienced the Christian message. She became a religious in Italy and was known for her holiness.

Her conversion happened when she recognized that she was created, known, loved and awaited by God. Our life is good as well because we too are created, known, loved and awaited by the great mystery of love, our Triune God.

Questions for reflection

1. What do you understand by “performative faith”?

2. What role does hope play in your life?

3. What is your attitude toward the future, the future we call eternity?’

 

Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.

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