It’s midway through Lent. You may be wanting to give up. Here’s a reminder of what Lent is all about. Read it for yourself . . . as well as for others.
Jesus loves as a pure gift, for the sake of nothing; he gives by taking the initiative, gratuitously . . .
He makes others better by loving them. Not only does he not accuse their mediocrity, although it is his full right to do so–infinitely more than we could–but he takes up their defense and gives his heart, his time, his trust.
Against Simon the Pharisee, Judas, and Martha, he defends Mary Magdalene, as he defended the Samaritan woman and Zacchaeus against public opinion or his Apostles. He knew that if such people were weak, small, mediocre, it is precisely because they lacked the love to grow and because others did not love them enough.
What does our Lord do? He calls forth, arouses, renews the best part in man, the part that is good and filled with hope and is always hidden in each and every person. Because Christ loves, and shows his love in creating new and good things–and for no ulterior motive–everybody who meets him once again begins to believe, to have trust in God and in themselves. His love is above all a pure, gratuitous gift, and in this way he manifests the Father and shows us that the first step in love is to be a source of life, and that only he who loves shares in the life of God. “Experience has shown me too late that we cannot judge people by their vices, but on the contrary by what they hold intact and pure, by the childlike qualities that remain in them, however deeply one must search for them.” (George Bernanos)
Not only does Christ give, but he does so by making himself smaller than we are; at Christmas an infant, at the agony a beggar, and before the Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, and Mary Magdalene, with the washing of the feet. At every moment, Christ puts himself on a lower level than those he loves, accepts the fact that he needs them, not for the sake of some strategy or clever calculation, but to evoke in such people the best part of their being–their heart, their generosity–in order to make them capable of giving in their turn.
Fr. Bernard Bro