With the early arrival of Lent and Easter this year, we hardly have had time for a breath since following the star to the manger. Having just found Jesus in Bethlehem and having just been steeped in the warm glow of the new hope of the Light of the World, we are in no hurry to leave. Inspired by his promises of love and peace, we want to stick around, to have more time in his gentle presence.
So we jump as his invitation to follow him and soon find that following Jesus, both in ancient Israel and today, presents challenges and comes with a cost. As we follow him into the wilderness as he prepares for his ministry, we find the same temptations of the world thrown up at us as were dangled in front of Jesus by Satan. As we follow him into Jerusalem, we find it difficult, if not impossible, to stand beside him in solidarity against violence and vengeance. As we follow him to the cross, we would rather save ourselves than take the risk of suffering with him.
Throughout Jesus’ life, even through his death on the cross, the Son of God called us to resist temptation, to love our enemies and to forgive each other multiple times. How daunting, how frightening, how lonely it can be to follow Jesus and to live as he taught. Yet we find courage and strength in our remembering the joy at the manger as Light melted the darkness, the triumph of his Resurrection as Life conquered death, and the comfort in his final promise to be with us always, even to the end of the age. The Lord is with you, be not afraid.
With blessings for your Lenten journey,