2020 Great Lenten Journey
What happens when we get wrapped up in our own way of thinking? What happens when we don’t allow the evidence in front of us to help shape our thoughts? What happens when we think we know best? Judas happens.
On Holy and Great Wednesday the Orthodox Church commemorates the betrayal of Christ by Judas. This is such a profound day that it is a day of fasting just about year round, with very few exceptions. It is a day in which we recall the risk of being blinded by pride.
During our Christian journey we are constantly being told to love others as ourselves, put the needs of others ahead of our needs, and to serve others. Then somehow we’re told that five virgins that wouldn’t share their oil with others were wise. The virgins that needed oil for their lamps were the foolish ones. Which is it? Serve others or keep the oil to ourselves?
Having just celebrated Palm Sunday and the Saturday of Lazarus, Great Lent almost seems like a distant memory. It is a good reminder that time moves constantly forward, despite and sometimes it feels in spite of our desires to slow it down. Alas, it moves with the same speed every day, and we are blessed with weeks like this to remind ourselves that we don’t have ‘all the time in the world’ to get down what our souls needs getting done.
Today is the final day of our Great Lenten Journey, and while it was not what we expected since we have spent most of our journey in quarantine, and I invite you to reflect upon the blessings you received. Sometimes, while we are in the midst of a journey, we forget that journeys end, and we must move on to the next journey. I guess you could say life is a journey of journeys.
Wisdom is a character trait for which we chase our entire life. When we are young, we are told wisdom comes with age. When we grow older, wisdom continues to be out of reach. Every year we look back at our younger self and think, “What I thought I knew…” It doesn’t matter how old we get; we always look back with astonishment at our younger self. Will we ever attain wisdom?
If you have been participating in the various Lenten Church services, via livestream for your safety of course, you may have noticed a great deal of reading from the Book of Psalms. Some services like the Great Compline are comprised mostly from the Book of Psalms. Do you ever wonder why certain Psalms were chosen for the services?
In normal times, these are not normal times, it isn’t much of a challenge to view the present with the eyes of the future. We know that hard work now pays off later. We recall the fable of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. But in times of stress such as these days, it can be difficult to focus on the future when today seems to be enough of a struggle.
I’ve noticed something on social media during the past few weeks that concerns me. As if it isn’t difficult enough for families to be quarantined, or at the very least to be limited in movement outside the home, I understand tensions can run high in family dynamics. That being said, I also think parents need to be parents during this crisis rather than friends.
When Saint James and Saint John, the Apostles of Christ, ask Jesus to honor their commitment with special seats in heaven Jesus said, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” (Mark 10.33-34) He said this to show the difference between how the world acts toward others as opposed to how God wants us to act toward others. We Christians are not supposed to desire seats of honor. We Christians are not supposed to want to be served by others. We Christians are supposed to serve others.