1st Characters in our Lenten Journey

We started Lent! The first day of Lent, being a day of fasting and abstinence, already feels longer than other days. In itself, the beginning of Lent, seems to show us that we are embarking on a long journey where on the one hand we would like to commit ourselves to sacrifice or a new good practice and on the other hand, we are discouraged that we will not be able to do so p till Easter.

This year’s Lent, for many people, is already feeling harder than usual. This is mainly due to the fact that halfway through last year’s Lent we were locked inside our home and Lent 2020 seemed not to end with Easter but has been one long Lent that is not over yet. If there is one thing that has characterized this year, it was certainly uncertainty. Uncertainty about our health, about the education of our children; about our social life, about our work, about the vaccine, about the variants and the list has no end. We all tend to prefer having clear answers to our questions rather than live with  uncertainty.

Today we are introduced to the women who, during Jesus’ public life, followed him and served him as best they could. They even stayed with him under the cross – at a time when eleven of his Apostles were not even there! Would you say these women knew all the details about where the journey after Jesus would lead them? Did they know how many wonders they would see? Like when he healed people or raised people from the dead? Did they know how many hard times they would witness, such as when Jesus had severe disputes with the Pharisees and above all that their Master would be crucified after an atrocious and brutish Passion?

Most likely, they did not know everything they were going through and maybe it was better that way, because if they had known in advance, they might not have had the courage to keep going and look ahead. Surely this thought is familiar to most of us.  Who knows how many times we looked back after a day, or after a number of weeks, or after months and realized that we had arrived where we never thought we would be able to get. For some of us these moments may have been the first months of our children’s lives, characterized by sleepless nights; for some it may have been weeks or months of family illness; quarantine weeks where each day seems twice as long; moments where work-life balance seemed to be impossible or other moments where we had to cope with poor mental, physical or even emotional health.

At the beginning of Lent we are not called to journey in a perfect way. There will be days when we will be flying the plane of our lives but there will be other moments where we will feel that what is flying our wings is the autopilot. The important thing is that, both in easy moments and in less than easy moments that we will go through during these weeks of Lent, we keep moving forward and keep looking forward. Here I recall the first homily that Pope Francis gave as Pope in which he said these words: ‘our life is a journey and when we stop, there is something wrong’. Let us thus pray that we, like the women who followed Jesus so faithfully, right up to Golgotha, ​​also thread through this Lenten journey by walking with him and behind him – one step after another, one day at a time.

Music by Jacob Portelli

This week you can also pray the Veneration of the Cross together as a family. Follow the steps here.

Beneath the Cross there was a small group of women. But these women were not only with Jesus beneath the Cross. They were close to him throughout the whole of his passion. Whilst many of his disciples feared for their own life and fled away, these courageous women stayed as close as possible to Jesus. They were not screaming, neither were they fighting with the soldiers trying to free away Jesus. They simply stayed close to Jesus as he carried the Cross and suffered great pain. Their presence was their gift to Jesus.

But they did not only stay close to Jesus during his passion. They had been with Jesus for quite a long time and therefore they had known Jesus and followed him for quite a while. They had experienced Jesus’ love for them and now they wanted to love him back by staying with him till the very end. They wanted to show him that they love him by staying by his side and suffering with him. They suffered a lot with Jesus because when we see someone whom we love suffering, we suffer with them. I think they wanted to teach us that even though sometimes we may seem helpless in front of the suffering of others, in actual fact we can do a lot by staying close to them and by suffering with them in silence. Like these women, we are also called to share God’s love for us with others, especially to those who are suffering. 

These women had been with Jesus for quite a long time and therefore they had come to know Jesus and they followed him during his life

While drawing the picture of these women beneath the Cross, we think of all those people who are suffering. Let us also think of those who do not have the courage to help others in need: we say a prayer for them as well so that they too follow these women’s example in their own lives.

These women are the first figures from Jesus’ Passion that we are discussing during this Lent. Visit the site again next week to learn about other figures, and by the end of Lent you would have the entire scene of Jesus’ crucifixion!

Lent with Father John

Lent with Brother Francis

Lent Daily Videos

Life of Jesus Videos

For more videos about the Lenten season, please click here.