Lent – looking toward the cross

As I’m sure you know it’s Ash Wednesday, the first proper day of Lent. I haven’t given up anything this year, and although I’m planning to try to do a few of the Live Life Live Lent suggestions as I go about my daily life, I haven’t really taken up anything either. I’m not even reading a Lent book. So what am I doing? Well – I’m part way through doing an Ignatian 19th Annotation Retreat in everyday life, which means that I’m working through the complete Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, but rather that doing them for 30 days solid I’m doing them over 24 or so weeks. I’m currently in phase 2 which means that I’m spending a lot of time in prayer watching Jesus’ ministry, seeking to learn from him and how he did things, and even how he might have felt about things so that I might know him better, love him more and so better serve him and his people. It’s been a rich process, with lots of nice coincidences of timing that have really helped me engage with the material – the exercises were about contemplating the incarnation at Christmas time for example. Anyway here we are in Lent, looking forward to Easter – the Cross looms over Lent – convincing us of our guilt before God and our inability to save ourselves, challenging our self-sufficiency and our pride – and in the exercises it’s becoming more and more clear that the cross was looming in Jesus’ life too – he knew it was coming – and yet he kept on the path God had set for him, getting closer and closer to Jerusalem. Why? For us. He did it for love of us. Lent should be a season where we come to the cross. Where we savour the good news. Where we linger until we understand that Christ died for us, for our sins and we therefore crucified him. We made it necessary. Until we understand that I’m not sure we can begin to understand ourselves or God. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

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