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• Treating at a realistic price
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ON SHROVE TUESDAY, the day before Ash Wednesday,
I participated in the launch of Project Compassion, Caritas'
annual Lenten appeal to help overcome global poverty and build
better lives for the poorest of the poor. As each of us entered the
hall at St Francis Xavier's College, we were handed a small stone
bearing a Project Compassion logo. During the liturgy each of us
was challenged -
• to place it in our wallet, as a reminder of the needs of others
• to place it in our shoe, because walking the journey of justice is
often uncomfortable, or
• to place it in our pocket, as a reminder of taking the possibility of
change with us wherever we go.
You could say we were being asked to leave no stone unturned,
so to speak, in making the season of Lent a time for making a
The six weeks of Lent take on a particular shape in the mind of
each person who observes this sacred time. However, the very fact
that Lent leads us to Easter, the highlight of our year, tells us that
it is not only 'different time' but 'good time'. Our willingness to 'live
Lent' is directly related to our readiness for Easter. We didn't know
on Ash Wednesday who we would be forty days later. When Jesus
took 'time out' to prepare to immerse himself in public ministry, he
didn't know what that ministry would entail. He didn't know that his
fate would be cross-shaped.
There is a story of a Good Friday liturgy which invited participants
to take up stones and to allow them to represent the hard things in
our lives: failures, woundedness, pain, disappointments. The stones
were placed at the foot of a cross, representing the body of Christ.
Then there was an invitation to place rose petals on the cross, to
honour the one who had died, and then to simply leave all those
hard things there for the three days when Jesus was in the tomb.
When the worshippers returned on Easter Day, they lifted up the
cross --- Jesus --- and there was an empty space outlined by rose
petals. A cross-shaped space.
It occurs to me that we don't need ritual to be reminded that each
of us has a cross-shaped space in our lives. For some, it's easy
to name the cross that formed the space: the loss of a family
member; a disabling condition; a dream unfulfilled. For others,
the space is less defined: the tedium of an unfulfilling job; a
family life shadowed by tension; a feeling that income never quite
Christians don't believe that Jesus' life, or death, takes away the
cross-shaped spaces in our lives. But we do believe that Jesus
understands and shares our failures, our woundedness, our pain,
our disappointments. We believe that Jesus' resurrection is more
than a historical event. It is a promise that this life, with all its joy
and sorrow, satisfaction and disappointment, success and failure,
is but a pale imitation of the glorified life awaiting each of us.
Dominican Mary Catherine Hilkert puts it like this:
"Christians do not have an explanation of either suffering or
hope, but only the story of Jesus and a cloud of witnesses who
throughout history have testified to their experience of resurrection.
The Gospel narratives provide clues of where the unexpected grace
of hope happens: two companions journey on a road telling the
story of their dashed hopes and welcome a stranger who listens to
their pain and suddenly reshapes their story from the perspective
of the promise and fidelity of God."
May your Easter give you a glimpse of God's promise and fidelity!
A promise that is life
and shares our failures,
our pain, our
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