As we approach the end of Lent we should remember that the purpose of Lent is to prepare us for Easter. It is a time for us to reflect on the great mystery of our Redemption. This reflection begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Pentecost. During this time through ritual and symbol we reflect on the Passion, Death, Resurrection and return to the Father (Ascension) of Jesus, and finally the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father and the Son after His return.
For thousands of years God reached out in love and faithfulness to reconcile humanity to himself. There was no response. Finally, in the Incarnation,God who called became the Man who responded. Jesus, fully God and fully man, responded perfectly to the Father’s call. But the rejection continued. In the words of John’s Gospel “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.”
His rejection resulted in His Passion, Death and Resurrection. John continues: “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.” Through the sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, we are empowered to join with Jesus and our imperfect response to the Father is joined to his perfect response…and the way to the Father is opened to us.
In liturgy, we celebrate our Redemption in three phases. Lent, which extends from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday evening, the Triduum (which is really a single three-day celebration) that includes Holy Thursday evening, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter. We conclude with the Easter Season which extends from Easter to Pentecost to complete the cycle of Redemption.
In the next few blogs we will consider how this holy season is, in a sense, a great catechism that teaches us by words, rituals and symbols the meaning of our Redemption.