Ientered into the season of Lent with much focus and determination. I wanted to grow in specific areas of my life. I had a plan of action. I mapped out certain disciplines to keep to on a daily basis so that I would experience growth, come Easter.
One week passed, and then the next, and another one passed. I was doing very well. These disciplines that I committed to helped me hear God’s voice clearer, and to respond to His invitations. Time seemed to be flying by as I journeyed deeper in the discovery of Christ’s immense love for me. My heart was opening up and preparing itself to receive more of His love that He poured out onto me each day. I was beginning to have a clearer vision and understanding of how He was intricately invested in every detail of my life, big and small.
Then, I stumbled.
Just as I was climbing up the mountain to dwell with my Lord, I fell. I tried my best to resist the temptations to sin and to keep to the path. I really did, I promise. But it just wasn’t enough.
I fell. I gave in to temptation. It was like St Paul said,
‘For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.’ (Romans 7:19)
Why? I kept asking myself. Why did I allow that to happen? Why didn’t I walk away?
There existed so much turmoil within me in the days that followed. I know, I know Jesus forgives me. But I struggled to come to terms with the fact that this sin has tainted my life, and this is now my new reality. I couldn’t face myself, and certainly couldn’t face God. What used to be a blooming relationship between God and I, now had a thick wall stacked between us. I carried within me shame, sorrow, anger, guilt, self-condemnation, and rejection. I felt trapped, not knowing how to process everything that was bubbling within me.
Underlying the multitude of emotions, was a sense of betrayal – my trust was betrayed because my friend knew of the journey I’ve been on – and that I had betrayed God.
I don’t know if anyone can resonate with that damnation and aching sorrow that I felt, and continue to feel at times. But Jesus, in His goodness, showed me that He understands the sorrow. He knows what it feels like to be tempted, betrayed, and alone. He gets the turmoil that I’m in. While I continued to beat myself up for the wrong I had done and began to feel like my Lent had been ruined, Jesus revealed to me that He can use this, regretful as it may be, to lead me closer to Him.
I slowly started to see how Christ was inviting me into His Passion through this. He too, was betrayed by those closest to Him. Judas betrayed Him for thirty silver pieces, while Peter denied Him three times. And these were people who sat at the table with Him! With these sentiments of betrayal that I carried in my heart, Jesus allowed me to enter into His Passion on a deeper level – to experience how He might have felt when His close ones betrayed Him.
With Masses suspended and churches and adoration chapels closed because of COVID-19, I felt lost and helpless. Not only did I feel alone in the struggle, now I couldn’t even simply come before Jesus even if I wanted to. Yet, what I began to see was that Christ was permitting me to have a taste of His loneliness; the distance that He must have felt from the Father, as He hung up on the Cross.
This Lent truly has been like no other for me in many ways, as it has been for the rest of us too. All of a sudden, we are stripped of all that we have been used to: daily Masses, devotions held in churches, accessibility of the Sacraments, church visitations on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday service, Easter vigil, etc. Now, we are stripped of everything and left only with our relationship with Christ.
It’s almost as though this is a test of how much we really do love Him: Will we become complacent when all these have been taken away from us? Will we lean in ever closer? Or will we allow what has been born in us to slowly dwindle? Many of us have expressed sadness. I feel the same way too. But I also believe that this can possibly be Christ’s invitation for us to enter into His Passion and to walk closer with Him, on His way to Calvary.
Maybe you feel like the world has turned topsy turvy right now. It could be something unexpected that happened, as it has been for me in this season. Or maybe it has been a whirlwind because of the disruptions due to COVID-19, or because of the suspension of Masses. Either way, let us not be absorbed in our emotions of disappointments, restlessness, or sadness, but allow the Lord to use these unexpected circumstances for His glory.
Brothers and sisters, let us not be afraid to face the feelings bubbling in us. Whatever it is, name it. But let’s not get stuck there. Let us bring it with us as we enter into His Passion – yet, trusting in the Resurrection that is to come at Easter.
Perhaps we can’t see the glory that is to come yet. But will you choose to believe? Will you trust in our Lord who conquered sin and death and who will bring you out of the miry clay that you are in? Will you trust that the Church will see a new revival at the end of these challenging times? Will you?