Father Carl Reid, Dean of the Anglican Catholic Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa where I worship, gave an awesome sermon on Lent on Sunday.
Here is an excerpt of what he said.
“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem,” Jesus says to His Apostles as they begin that final journey to the Holy City where the events of the Passion shortly were to transpire. “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge Him and put Him to death; and the third day He shall rise again.”
Surely, here is the most essential aspect of our Lenten journeys – we are to go up to Jerusalem – with Him. Through Lent, we are to walk with Jesus, knowing as He did, what was to befall Him; and, thus to share in His Passion, to acknowledge our own part in the events, in the sins, that put Him to death, but, finally, and joyfully, to gaze upon our Resurrected Lord, He Who is the Divine Love that transforms and heals us, Who makes us at one with God.
The Gospel passage tells us that, immediately after Jesus had finished His words to the Apostles about the events that were to take place in Jerusalem, “they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them.” Which is to say, in a sense, they were blind.
The episode that then follows on the road to Jerusalem involving the blind beggar, as real as it is in terms of the manifestation of the Divine Love as shown in our Lord’s compassion, as important as it is in teaching us about faith, is above all symbolically important. We, like the Apostles, are so very limited in our ability to see truly and thus to comprehend fully. We are also very much like the blind beggar, or at least we should recognize ourselves to be so, spiritually.
Wednesday past, we began our study of The Sermon on the Mount, beginning in Chapter 5 of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. What is the very first, arguably foundational, Beatitude? “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Of the two Greek words for poor, Matthew chose the one that means absolutely destitute to communicate our Lord’s teaching that only when we admit our utter inability to save ourselves, only when we acknowledge our spiritual blindness, and therefore, only when we faithfully place our spiritual welfare completely in God’s hands, do we become clay fit for the heavenly potter.
“Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, ‘Receive thy sight; thy faith hath saved thee’.” As we absorb this lesson that true faith is faith in God only, not faith in our own accomplishments or abilities – we cannot heal our blindness ourselves – a light begins to dawn. Like the Apostles and the blind man, but only through the compassionate Divine love, we leave darkness. Our Lenten journey with our Lord, then, is from darkness towards light, as we walk with Him, placing the outcome of our spiritual journey utterly and completely in His hands.
The whole sermon is worth reading, especially his "cautions" on the Stations of the Cross.
If you want to prepare for Easter with readings and prayer, why not join me?