Excerpted from the Council’s 2019 Lenten Reflection Guide for Lectionary Year C.
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Lent and Advent have always been parallel seasons to me, both times of waiting. They are, however, two different versions of waiting. Advent is a season of anticipation, hope, excitement for the birth of Jesus. Lent is a time of patience, a complicated time full of the knowledge that Jesus will die in a great miscarriage of justice. Himself for us. I have always struggled with Lent because it seems so dark, compared to Advent. Lent traditions include not singing “Hallelujahs” or giving up a favorite vice. Both of these practices remind us that Lent is a time of seriousness and repentance.
In Luke’s passage this week Jesus gives us two examples of repentance: one of the Galileans and the other a parable of the barren tree. The parable holds the tension of patiently waiting for the tree to bear fruit verses giving up and cutting it down. The landowner wants to cut the tree down because it is not bearing fruit, but the caretaker begs for patience and barters a deal that if the tree does not bear fruit after one more year, he will cut it down. The parable makes clear that the landowner/God is patient and that patience is a demonstration of God’s love and grace.
Viewing patience as an act of love and grace seems revolutionary in 2019 and Lent. The past few years have seen an increase in hatred and tempers always on the rise to the point it seems we cannot be patient with each other anymore.
Instead of focusing on repentance as a thing we must do I would like to spend this Lent concentrating on how God is patient with us as we struggle through this world. God is willing to wait for us, and that is one way that God shows God’s everlasting love and grace.
I would also challenge us all to be revolutionary to each other and show each other patience and practicing love for our neighbors.