Lent is a peculiar time of teaching within the Church year. How are we to understand. What is there to learn regarding Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, as well as the temptations encountered?
In a sense, the life of Christians in this world can become something akin to living in a desert. All the trials and tribulations we encounter throughout our lives can seem fairly daunting and leave us spiritually parched, and thirsty for refreshment.
A consistent message of Protestant churches is that we are in the “End Times.” Every international crisis throughout my entire life has sparked one sermon after another of impending destruction and doom.
The truth is that the Church of Jesus Christ has been in the last days ever since it’s inception, beginning with the Resurrection and Pentecost. Even though it’s now been over 2,000 years, we dare not surrender to the temptation of concern or despair that we’ve been presented with merely cleverly crafted stories.
As one Facebook friend put it, “The end times started at the Ascension and Pentecost, and have been unfolding ever since. Heaven is “already, and not yet.” And, he continued,” the tribulation has taken different manifestations throughout history. Pagan Rome, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin and Mao. They were all anti Christ.
Catholic Christians believe that there will indeed be a final consummation, or end of this age. However, until then we live His will “on earth as it is in heaven.” Both prosperity and persecution are promised. We must be ready for either. With that prayerful mindset, we may be at peace with whichever comes.
The cultural and spiritual warfare that is taking place because of the pandemic, with the forced separation of mass numbers of people from their extended families, elders, parish communities, and fellow workers, has brought our world to a place not experienced in hundreds of years. Coupled with the polarization of the populous within the United States, and the mass apostasy from Christianity in the West, many Christians are once again echoing the mantra that we must be entering the final period of the End Times.
Yet when we consider the words of the Our Father, "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven", we must know, as Christians, that our prayers do make a difference. Just as the faithful of the Early Church looked at events taking place in their world as possible signs of the imminent Second Coming of Christ, they, nevertheless, kept their focus on the possibility that there could be a "first resurrection", as described in the 20th chapter of the Book of Revelation, where the Church could experience a triumph, even in this world.
It is this hope that must be the ground of our daily living, for as Christians we are not to be giving ourselves over to fate, but to the hope that comes from Christ. God IS in charge, and He is NOT bound by anything. When we pray, "Thy will be done", we must mean it! If these are indeed the "end times", we need to prepare ourselves to stand before the Judgement Throne of God, and answer for the way we've lived our lives.
Yet we dare not surrender to the temptation of despair, but live our lives in the joyful knowledge that we are loved by God, and have every reason to live whatever time God has allotted for us, with a joyful heart, concentrating our every waking hour to being a repentant child of the Most High God.
The desert of our Lenten experience leads us to the seemingly horrific experience of Christ’ death on the cross, but, the story doesn’t end there. Because of His great sacrifice we are able to rise with Jesus, victorious over our own failures.
Pray my sisters and brothers in repentance as we come closer to the end of our spiritual journey this lent. Pray for our families, cities, and nations, that more will turn to God, hear His voice and turn from their evil ways. Amen