And so, it comes to a close…Great Lent for 2021 is ending. As we look over our journey, it is important to do a self-evaluation. Did I draw closer to the Lord during these 6 weeks? How disciplined was my prayer life? Was my fasting truly unto the Lord? Did I spend time in God’s Word each day? Was it a spiritual success? If I had it to do over, what would I change?
The truth is that we cannot do it over. We cannot change the Great Lent that is coming to a close, but we can certainly learn from this journey and apply it to our lives immediately.
Consider our reading from Genesis today. It begins with the death of Jacob in one brief verse: “When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed, and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.” Our reading ends with the death of Joseph, also in one brief verse: “So Joseph died, being a hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”
Our Lenten Journey had a beginning date and an ending date. So too, the lives of Jacob and Joseph had a beginning date and an ending date. And, though some of us may want to deny it, we also have a beginning date and an ending date. “I will think about that tomorrow.” That can work on some things, but it will not profit us one bit to avoid thinking about our own ending. In fact, many of the very great Christians of the past encouraged people to think about their death every day, not to be dark and gloomy, but to inspire them to live that day to the fullest.
St. Paul tells us that we are running a race…this race is our life. Would we enter any kind of race and not have a goal to finish that race? If I enter a 5k race and only run 3k before quitting, what would I win? Our race is indeed a marathon. To run this race, we will enjoy the gentle down hills we come to and we will struggle up the hills we find along the way. We may have aches and pains; we may grow thirsty and weary. Thankfully, there are many aide stations along the route where we will find spiritual food and drink to fuel us on. And so we continue toward the finish line, running with others of like mind and remembering those who have run before us and finished their race.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
My dear brothers and sisters, we have finished another part of the marathon (Great Lent 2021). Now let us continue running the race that is our life, with the challenges that each day brings. There may be hills or even mountains in our path, but God will give us strength as we put one foot in front of the other. Our ultimate goal is to cross the finish line, hand in hand with the Lord, to the cheering of the great cloud of witnesses…what a glorious end to a glorious race!
With much love in our Lord Jesus Christ…Fr. Stephen