Thursday, March 26, 2009

Great Lent

We commence a season of preparation Monday March 3. We begin the preparation with a service of reconciliation, the Subkono, held on Monday along with Sext. We move on after 40 days to commemorate the Act of Redemption ending with the joy of Resurrection, when again, we have a tradition of greeting one another in an act of redefined reconciliation before the congregation departs.

This should be a reminder of what the Lent is for. We enter it together reconciling with one another and moving towards total repentance and we exit at the Easter as a reconciled congregation joined together in the joy of the Risen Lord.

Do we experience this in our personal and church life, and if we do, does it get reflected in our conduct? If we cannot reconcile with our own brothers we might as well eat and drink and be merry, which is not to say that we give up the Lent in resignation but to say instead that we pray that we be enabled to reach a spirit of reconciliation.A visible unity seems totally impossible in Christendom. Nor does it appear to me to be essential for God-realisation and Christ-actualisation.The Roman Church would insist on this even now, but if we can relive the Apostolic times we find unity in love of God and love of man, but not in church structure. Of course if we take this point too far we will have to disband the Patriarchate and the Catholicate and turn congregational, but to overemphasise the structure is often a selfdefeating excercise for a sincere Christian in his progress as a pilgrim to the New Jerusalem.Let us therefore enter the Lent praying for the grace to see God without the confines of manmade structures. This calls for effort and discipline. Unless we are willing to strive for that our Lent will be just another ritual, like the bishop who washes the feet of a deacon/priest/layman at 3 p.m. but refuses to offer the same person a seat at 5 p.m.! (Do not read unintended meanings here please! All bishops including HH and HB offer seats; even on the Devalokam side most offer seats,and, those who do not, keep standing themselves!!! I typed it as it came naturally to the writer in me during the course of typing this, by way of illustrating the ritualism we are all threatened with in our church life)

The Lectionary of the Lent is prepared by Fathers in such a way that by following the string of thoughts contained therein we can progress towards this end. The Gospel readings of each Sunday gives a specific message and when taken together they form a beautiful necklace of Grace.

We begin with the wedding at Cana. We are like the host there. We have Jesus in our house but not enough wine to serve. Because Jesus is there the shortfall is made good.And it happens through the intercession of Mary.With Marian intercession and consequent Divine intervention ordinary water becomes heady wine.We enter the Lent hoping for a similar transformation.(Reference is invited to the sermon of Moran Patriarch on Kothine Sunday 1982 recorded in VENI VIDI VICI).

And then each Sunday highlights a healing miracle which is a step by step progress to total surrender until we reach Samiyo where all these steps are seen in one episode.

The Girbo reminds us of the leper who broke all manmade rules to meet Jesus, the Msario reminds us of the possibility of reaching His presence even if you are paralysed, the Knanaito tells us about Divine Grace reaching out to us even when we are far away, the Kpipto reminds us of God being merciful even when we are bonded only by ritualism and miss meeting God in Church-life and the Samiyo teaches that even people who have never seen light is sought out by The Light. We can connect the steps mentioned in John 9 for Christ actualisation with these five steps.

Let us try to comprehend the real spirit of Lent so that on Easter we can proclaim to the world that we have seen the Lord, as Mary did, and the world would believe us when we do, as the disciples did.


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