Lent! and it begins with a blissful invitation ‘Come back to me with all your heart’. At the beginning of this period in the ritual text is the quote ‘The water that I shall give will turn into a spring of eternal life’. That sounds mysterious……
RCIA 125: ‘In the liturgy and liturgical catechesis of Lent, the reminder of baptism already received or the preparation for its reception, as well as the theme of repentance, renew the entire community along with those being prepared to celebrate the paschal mystery….. for both the elect and the cmmunity Lent is a time for spiritual recollection.’
We are being drawn into an ever-deepening experience of who Christ the Saviour is for us personally and communally. Through the Word, in Sunday Gospels, in scrutinies and presentations, we are invited to come closer and be touched by the one who has given us living water to quench our thirst, light for our path, and the freedom to live life to the full, in love and service of others. Its an opportunity for each of us to be reminded of who we are and who we are becoming, and to renew our resolve to hold fast. We might take time in these next six weeks to look at the initiation rites for ourselves, and through the lens of these promises, our intimate covenantal relationship can take on new meaning and hope. The whole purpose of the Gospel of John, proclaimed in the scrutinies, is our union wth Christ through the Spirit – so no academic pursuit this! No requirement to learn or acquire or achieve or posess – but simply to open, and allow for what is happening amongst the people in the Gospel narratives to happen among us in our communities. These are not rituals instituted and left behind by a departed Jesus, but Jesus risen and present in and around us now.
So with a double-awareness of Jesus in his time and history, and Jesus in similar movement in our lives, we respond to the invitation, the question:
What is your thirst? What darkness or blind spots are in your life? What causes you to remain bound up in ‘deathly’ attitudes?
We read the gospel differently when we are hungry, says Gustavo Guttierez. You could by extension say we read the gospel differently when we are thirsty, blind or bound up with troubles? And we discover that Christ meets us right where we are, with living water, light for our path, new life full of hope and meaning.
So yes, I am looking forward to Lent and I pray to be open to both personal and community renewal.
Lord God, You created the human race and are the author of its renewal. Bless all your adopted children and add these chosen ones to the harvest of your new covenant. As true children of the promise, may they rejoice in eternal life, won, not by the power of nature, but through the mystery of your grace. We ask this ghrough Christ our Lord. Amen (RCIA 122, B, Prayer over the Elect)