One of the striking things you surely noticed
coming into church this morning is that the statues are all covered.
You may wonder why.
It’s part of the fasting of Lent.
We don’t just fast from food; there are no flowers on the altar;
the music is simpler. As we go along, we leave more and more behind.
It’s also a kind of dying.
Little by little, shedding more and more,
until we are alone, as it were, with Jesus, in his suffering and dying.
Why do we talk about death like this?
Why do we keep an image of Jesus, dying on the cross, in front of us?
Why do we Christians do this?
Let’s remember that death came into the world
because of human rebellion against God.
That rebellion, however, doesn’t mean living without God;
it means replacing the God who actually made us,
with the god of my own will, my own desires, making myself god.
By the way, you know how so many people like to say things like,
believe what you want, God can be anything, it’s all good?
God is whoever you want him to be – that’s the sentiment, right?
The trouble with this idea is that
it means not a world centered on one God,
but a world of seven billion or so gods – one for each of us;
and what do you think that world looks like?
That’s a world of greed, injustice, murder and indifference.
And that kind of so-called “living” – Jesus came to tell us –
is a shadow experience of life; a kind of “deathly” living.
Whereas Jesus came to give us true life; the fullness of life.
And to have that fullness of life,
you and I must die to what this world thinks is life.
This is where God’s mercy is at work.
As you and I get a little older, our eyes aren’t so good,
our hearing fades, our body doesn’t do all it used to…
this experience has a way of humbling us, and teaching us:
you really aren’t God, you know that?
And if we listen, and accept the lesson, we grow wise.
And we are reminded: this life isn’t my destination;
I’m on the way to something bigger and better.
It is in letting go of this world that we gain the world to come.
This might be a good exercise for each of us:
to look ourselves in the mirror, and ask the question:
“Who is God?” And then tell ourselves: “Not you.”
Next week is Palm Sunday and then Holy Week:
if the Cross is the most important thing that ever happened,
then Holy Week recalls the most important week in history.
We’ll have all our normal activities this year!
Make the most of it.
If you need to go to confession, but have been procrastinating,
there are plenty of opportunities over the next two weeks.
During Holy Week there will be many extra hours for confession.
Do I live for me, for here, for this? Or do I want to live forever?