Lent: The Church's Springtime
By Gene Giuliano, Affiliate Instructor, Neuhoff School of Ministry
Date published: March 2, 2020
It’s that time of year, again. The liturgical season of Lent has begun. Homilists
will speak about the biblical invitation to almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. We will
become involved in discussions about what one is “giving up” for the next six weeks.
There will be those who point out that it is not so much what we give up that matters,
but what we do. And, somewhere, someone will say that if you want to give something
up, give up sin!
It is Lent, the Church’s springtime, the season of moving from death to life. It is
the time of accompanying and supporting those women and men who are preparing to be
baptized at the Easter Vigil. It is also, and we must not forget, the time when we
are called to experience reconversion and renewal as we reflect upon and reclaim our
own baptism, which marked the death of the old life and the beginning of new life.
“Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into
his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just
as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in
newness of life” (Romans 6:3–4).
Give something up? Yes, but what? In baptism we were claimed for Christ. To live out
our baptism means to “surrender.” This is the “giving up” – a giving up of our very
selves. “…I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20). As St. Paul
affirms with great conviction, we can never be so united to Jesus Christ until we
are willing to relinquish not only sin, but also all claim to our right to be our
own master. We can never be so united to Jesus Christ until we live by a power centered
no longer in ourselves, but rather a power centered in him.
It is not a matter of doing things to make right our relationship with God, it is
a matter of surrendering to God’s will for me, a surrendering to Christ. We must give
up the idea that what we do somehow merits God’s attention and love and makes us better
people. It is Christ living in us that makes us live. In the end, it is our sole duty
Let us arrive together at the great night, the Easter Vigil, with those who have completed
their journey to baptism, and celebrate together the great movement of springtime,
the movement from death to new life.