Renewal: The Essence of Lent

Lenten Reflections with Br. Michael Perras, ofm

Week 5

Throughout the season of Lent we have heard scripture which speaks of renewal and being anchored in Christ. As we begin this Fifth Week of Lent the scriptures for Sunday are an invitation for our hearts to be made new as we journey towards the great Easter Feast.

The prophet Jeremiah (31.31-34) ascribes to God, “I will be their God and they shall be my people… from the least of them to the greatest.” These beautiful words speak of the deep covenant bond God has with us. Each day this covenant is renewed and refreshed. This covenant is sealed with the love of Jesus Christ poured out for us and each day we must embrace it as a way of living out God’s law of love.

The Fifth Sunday of Lent is also known as Solidarity Sunday. It is a reminder of the covenant we share with all of God’s people from the least to the greatest. To be in solidarity with each other is to see all as valued members of the covenant. As Christ came to serve, we too are called to follow him by serving him through service to the poorest of the poor and those who do not know they are valued members of the covenant. This speaks of renewal. When we encounter the poor, the sick, or the hurting are our hearts created anew or are they hardened? Do we embrace the essence of Lent as an opportunity not only for our renewal but also for the renewal of the church and all people?

This is not a lofty goal set aside for the Pope and theologians, it is the core of who we are as Christians. Each one of us gives witness to Christ and is a messenger of renewal. It is in this witnessing we can then understand the grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying to bear much fruit (John 12.24). If we consider the seed renewed in the way it gives its all to bear fruit, we are encouraged in the renewal of this season. If we fail to see the seed as renewed through it’s giving, we end up feeling cut off, caught up in our stuff and lacking the trust needed for covenant, growth, and renewal.

In this Fifth Week of Lent let us note the moments of renewal and how we have lived in solidarity with each other this Lent. In prayer let us ask for awareness of where we need to be renewed in our living and in our efforts for solidarity. The days of Lent draw short, the Season of New Life is on the horizon, let us be drawn into the heart of Christ. Let us trust renewal is happening as our hearts are made new even in the smallest of ways. Let us trust our God is with us, for he sent his Son who is our “source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5.9).

Renew us O God, for we are your people.

Photo Credit: Kai Pilger