Growing up I always thought of Lent as a somber time, a time of dying. Flowers are replaced with branches and the colorful tapestries in our church are exchanged for purple banners draped with a sort of heaviness. As we know, Lent is the time Jesus was in the desert—forty days in a desert. He had no food, no earthly comfort from the temptations of the devil and he was faced with what was to become of him. Deserts themselves are very raw. They expose the cracks that hold the earth together in a parched, seemingly deserted endlessness.
Today in Mass, reflecting on the gospel, a little boy sitting behind us began to mimic the priest’s words. “It’s not over.” This did not connect for me of course, until it was echoed back by the little boy, much louder. “IT’S NOT OVER!” Then it clicked. Lent isn’t over, and indeed it won’t be until Easter. But more than that, these words resonated within me because I realized that Lent is not the end. Lent does not mean death, but rather a time for tremendous growth and renewal so that we may be transformed and spiritually reborn in time for Easter. Just as the cracks in the floor of a barren desert are exposed with drought, so are we also exposed during Lent if choose to be. We spiritually walk beside Jesus in the desert as we seek to expose the “cracks” of our faith: what keeps us from God. This is why we give up and do things during Lent, to reflect on those cracks with the hope of mending them and permanently repairing them.
In today’s gospel from John, we are told that “whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life”. This simply means that if we continue to live our lives with all the cracks and barriers that keep us from God, we will not grow and spring new life, eternal life. This Lent, face yourself, allow who you really are spiritually to be exposed in prayer. As Easter approaches, let the risen Christ flood your life. Let him flow through your life. It isn’t too late. It’s not over.