"Though we go forth weeping, we shall come back rejoicing!"
Russian philosopher Nicolas Berdyaev, a devout Christian, observed, "I always knew...that freedom gives birth to suffering, while the refusal to be free diminishes suffering...freedom is hard; it is a heavy burden." We face this burden on the Lenten journey. It is our choice whether or not to follow this God-turned-slave, this Word-become-flesh, even unto death. Knowing the end of the journey should help us enter into it more easily and joyfully-but for many, Lent remains a confusing jumble of obligation, guilt, and custom.
If we want to follow the suffering Christ, we must strip away all that is false and all that keeps us from worshiping God. This is the mystery of the passion; only when we are stripped and emptied can we be filled with the bountiful new life of the resurrection. Only when we have plumbed the depths of our own limitations and failures to live as God's disciples can we know and freely accept God's forgiveness. And only when we know ourselves as broken yet fiercely loved can we share the mercy and new life with which we have been gifted.
Let us enter this process joyfully. We are not alone, but accompanied by the strength of the ancient covenant, our religious ancestors, and holy people around the world. We go forth with confidence, knowing that "My strength and my courage is the Lord...I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord" (Psalm 118:14, 17).
Michaela Bruzzese, formerly program associate with Call to Renewal, is a free-lance writer living in Chile.
Serve God Alone
Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16, Romans 10:8b-13, Luke 4:1-3