Lent begins with the color gray -- the color of ashes, of penance, of weakness. Gray is also the color of dullness. Sometimes it seems the best description of our everyday routine. Some days it seems our whole life is gray.
By this we are not talking about sin or guilt. Sin is an action resulting form my free decision that separates me from God. However, when I truly recognize my sin, it opens me to God's love. Grave sin is healed by great mercy. Betrayal is redeemed by faithful love.
The problem is located somewhere between great sin and great love, in the vast haze of imperfect friendships, unfulfilled promises, incomplete victories, plans delayed to infinity. It is a constant, omnipresent weakness, an endless capacity for mediocrity. Our dreams rarely come true -- and when they do, they are just a pale shadow of what we expected. Our loves and friendships, though intense and full of promise, are also fragile and full of deception. How many times have we caught ourselves trying to possess or to manipulate other people? How many times have our prayers for others been nothing more than showing off for ourselves? What scares us the most is the suspicion that this is all it means to be human.
But the color of Lent is not gray; it's violet -- purple. Purple is the color of repentance and conversion. The intensity of purple also signifies the persistent love of God, who is rejected by man but does not give up. He sacrificed himself as a man in order to redeem man. He became man so that I don't have to be afraid to be human.
This means that the way to get out of the gray is not to be afraid of it. If we accept our life, our loves and friendships and our work for what they are, and if we have the courage to receive them with all talent and energy, then past the haze of mediocrity, boredom, and even suffering, I will see Christ. Christ's humanity is not a limitation or an embarrassment; it is the way in which God chose to save his creatures. His cross is not a failure; it is his victory and hope for us. Christ is the Son who became man so that "the Father may see and love in us what he sees and loves in Christ." Thanks to him I don't have to be afraid of my weaknesses and limitations. As long as I don't give up, I am on the road to him.
Father Jacek Buda, O.P. (Magnificat)
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Lent: Fade to Gray
Just a little pick-me-up now that we're further into Lent.