By Dr. Gilberto Hinojosa, professor emeritus
Lent is a journey to Holy Week.
It is a season of anticipation of the celebration of the central mystery of our faith: Christ’s death and resurrection. In some way, Lent is like the Gospels, all of which are, according to some scholars, long introductions to the core story of the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord.
So, Lent is a season of traveling along a long road. In our time, it may appear too long.
We go quickly from one sports season to another, from one popular celebration to another, and indeed from one news cycle to another. In the past, Lent always seemed very long to me. Nowadays it seems even longer.
Yet, we are told, the ending – Holy Week – is worth waiting for.
Jesus’s journey of his death and resurrection entailed working his way through his ministry of teaching and healing. And he began that stretch of the journey by going into the desert.
In the desert he prayed and fasted – and he waited, something we have trouble doing today. Lent seems long precisely because for us – or at least, for me – waiting is burdensome.
Waiting in Lent is difficult, in part, because we already know the ending. But this waiting is not about twiddling our thumbs in anticipation of something to happen. This waiting is about reflection and prayer.
Lent is, of course, also about doing something: changing life habits and helping others, particularly those in need. But even that involves reflection and prayer. We cannot change our lives and our relationships with others unless we change our relationship to our true, inner self and to God.
And reflection and prayer means taking some moments away from the hustle and bustle of everyday obligations and distractions. This entails listening to the Spirit of God.
One homilist at the beginning of Lent called attention to why Jesus went into the desert. One of the gospels, he reminded us, says the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert. Another says the Spirit led Jesus into the desert. And a third says Jesus, filled with the Spirit, went into the desert.
We have received the Spirit of God at baptism and that same Spirit drives us, leads us, and inspires us to take some time each day in the desert of silence and reflection. Without time to ponder on our relationship with God, the celebration of Good Friday and Easter Sunday will surely fly right past us.