by Ciel Tagaza
One week into Lent and we’re steeped in the penitential theme of the season. We were greeted on Ash Wednesday with, “Repent!”, reminded of God’s call to return to Him whole heartedly and believe in the Gospel. We’ve heard homilies and exhortations on prayer, fasting and almsgiving, self-denial, sacrifice and following Jesus. We have been made aware of temptations and desert experiences that are part of our faith journey,
We make our Lenten journey more meaningful as we go deeper into the mystery of our faith – that Christ has died, is risen and will come again. While we focus more on Jesus’ journey towards His passion during Lent, we have to remember that we are ultimately celebrating God’s amazing love and our salvation. We give thanks to God for what He did for love – gave us His only Son that we who believe in Him may not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). That is more than enough for us to sing Him praises.
However, the Catholic Church refrains from singing Alleluia (and Gloria) during Lent to remind us that we are still in exile. Alleluia is considered a term of praise of the choirs of angels who worship around the throne of God. Though we take part in the heavenly worship whenever we celebrate the Mass, we are not there yet, unlike the saints who now enjoy fully the presence of God in the company of angels. That’s why the Church “buries” the Alleluia during Lent – to make our longing more poignant. But there is no Lenten rule against singing about God’s great love when we worship Him here on earth. When we worship, we always call to mind the protagonist in the greatest love story of all time – Jesus.
The beauty of Lent is this: God calls us back to Him and He already made a way for us. And even if we run away, God tirelessly waits for us and pursues us – even in the darkness of our sinfulness, shame and despair. The joy of Lent is that it is a time of favor. God is offering us a beautiful exchange – our weakness for His grace, our shame for His righteousness, our despair for His hope, our sins for His mercy, our life for His Son, our broken spirit for His Spirit. All these He gives out of His love for us. How wonderful!
“Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
“He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.
“So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”