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Palm Sunday, 2018: Making Every Day Holy

by Father Jadon

Today is the last Sunday of the season of Lent, the forty days of fasting and penitence that prepare us for the Easter feast. Just as Lent began a few days before its first Sunday, on Ash Wednesday, it also ends after its last Sunday. Lent continues throughout Holy Week until the first “Alleluia” is shouted on Easter Eve as Resurrection light scatters the darkness and mourning turns to morning.

There is a saying that Sundays are “in” Lent but not “of” Lent. Sundays are intended as days of feasting, not fasting . . . “mini Easters” no matter the season.  And so the season of Lent stretches across 46 days so that forty days remain when the Sundays are subtracted. But unless we have taken up a devotional practice for Lent, like fasting, many of us only really feel Lent on Sundays, the days that are actually intended to be a reprieve from our Lenten observance.  

Every year I struggle with the call to fast, and this year was no different. Even as Lent began I was asking myself whether I would fast at all. I had been pondering whether I would give up the old standbys like dessert or alcohol or take on a bigger sacrifice like meat, or sugar, or a really hard one . . . complaining.  I kept on telling myself I would make a decision one way or another until several days into Lent when I reasoned to myself that, since I had already missed the start of the season, I might as well fast from fasting this year and find other ways to keep Lent holy. In the end I both regret this (in)decision and I also acknowledge that struggling with my regret has, itself, been spiritually productive during this season of cleansing and preparation. In the end perhaps Jesus can use whatever we give him—willingness or willfulness—to “cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” if we honestly confess it to him.

Just as many of us only really engage the season of Lent when we cross the threshold on Sundays, so too, if we are honest, many of us only fully reveal or engage our Christian identities, throughout the year, when we decide to come to church. But the purpose of Lent is to prepare and renew us not for Easter Sunday but for Easter living . . . every day of our life. Pope John Paul II wrote: "The main current of Lent must flow through the interior man, through hearts and consciences.”  Jesus himself teaches that true fasting is of the heart, not merely of outward action (Matthew 6:16-18). In other words our Lenten practices are intended to change our life, not merely alter it for a season.

So as we enter the final week of Lent and commemorate the last week of Jesus' life, let us look within ourselves once again. Let us commit ourselves deeply to this holy week of prayer and devotion . . . and ponder what our whole life in Christ might look like in the year to come . . . “seven whole days, not one in seven.”   Jadon+

Last Published: March 22, 2018 12:09 PM
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