Have we ever wondered, what converts a human heart toward goodness? What opens a soul to God? Witnessing love. The scripture reveals, witnessing God’s love is what inspires us to respond to God more completely. During this time of Lent we are asked to become more available to God, to allow our relationship with Christ to deepen. Why should we? Because of the incredible love which Christ has shown us. In the last two weeks, the Church has chosen wonderful readings from both the old and new testaments to help soften our hearts toward Christ.
Last week, we heard of Christ representing us before God, creating a new covenant for humanity to share in his glory. Do we remember the 1st reading from last week? There was a covenant made between God and Abraham. It was a sort of contract. Abraham would put his trust in God, and God would share his glory with Abraham. The way covenants were made in those days seems very strange to us, but these promises were very serious. In those those early times of humanity and in that desert environment, keeping promises could mean life or death. To help them impress upon their minds their commitment, they would slaughter animals, and split them, forming a bloody path between them. Each partner would walk in the path, and so doing would be saying, “If I break my promise to you, may what happened to these animals happen to me.” God and Abraham agreed to this covenant, but who broke their part of it? Humanity did. And who came to humanity’s aid in order that the covenant be satisfied. Who willingly stepped in for us, allowing what happened to those animals happen to him? Christ Jesus, our Lord. It was the Father’s will so that we might witness the extent of his love, and the Son accepted. He wouldn’t let us fail on fulfilling the covenant; he would allow the consequences to happen to him, so that covenant could end, and a new one take its place in him.
This week we hear again of Christ’s commitment to our salvation. Many of us sadly can say that we have been the fig tree which did not produce fruit. For more than three years, some of us, were away from God. Who spoke on our behalf so that we could have more time? Who offered to work extra hours, tilling the soil and then fertilizing it? It was God, it was Christ, it was the Holy Spirit, it was any person in our life that remained true to the faith when he had stopped. These people went beyond what they needed to do in patience. They put up with things from us that could only be described as true love on their part. Their actions, helped soften our hearts; Christ’s love, alive in them, alive in our Church brought us back from certain destruction.
The Catholic Church teaches that when we struggle with devotion toward God, when we struggle with aversion for our sins, we should meditate on the Cross of Christ. The Cross is the highest act of love there could ever be for many reasons. One of them is that this divine man, did not deserve such treatment, but he accepted it for us. This is why the tradition of praying the Stations of the Cross is so strong during Lent. It is what softens our hearts again, to give God a full response to his call. To renew our commitment to the new covenant of Christ who has loved us so tremendously.
God has given us a transformative act of love to experience in his Son. Every Lent we are called to journey out into the desert to experience him. Let us continue to withdraw from the world, to spend time listening to him, and to do the acts of charity he loves. Through fasting, prayer, and almsgiving our hearts venture out into the soil which he has tilled and fertilized. Then we bear fruit, the fruit of divine love like Christ, fruit which changes hearts, one to another.