Welcome to another Lent, the season that’s all about weighing the lives we lead. During our evaluation of weighing ourselves, please remember that Lent is totally about transformation.
I really don’t believe that people “change.” We’re pretty much made by the time we reach adulthood. The “cruise ship deck chairs” of our lives are set in place. We can only rearrange those chairs. That’s Lent – transforming what we have to work with, within the confines of our lives.
We foolish humans love to take the “all or nothing” approach. It’s all or nothing. We focus on “change” and think to ourselves that we’ll never be able to do it so why try. Forty days until Easter wasted because of our convenient conclusion. Transformation, however? Oh, now we pause.
Jesus didn’t really “change” anything during his ministry but he sure did “transform.” He honored his Jewish tradition and customs – he only transformed what was forgotten or ignored. Jesus was baptized to transform his life and then influence the lives he touched.
Today Jesus does his Tony Orlando and Dawn impression allowing Satan to “knock three times” to offer his three tricks – “command this stone to become bread” is Satan’s magic but Jesus turns his magic into mystery (the heart of the Catholic Church.) “All the world will be yours if you worship me,” is Satan’s next trick and Jesus turns this self-serving power into unending service. Satan’s third attempt is when he tells Jesus to jump and the world will be his to own. Jesus turns number three into it is never, ever about “me vs. you” but always empathy and union.
You see? Jesus didn’t change anything – he transformed. It’s the same thing we do at Mass each week. We don’t change anything around us – we just mess around with those “cruise ship deck chairs” and use humble, simple bread to become the humble Body of Christ. The bread remains bread, the bread is still baked and still smells like bread but it is no longer earthly bread; it is the eternal Body of Christ.
I heard from a second party that I preached too long last time I was here. I was also told by a second party that I’m called “Fr. 10-Minute Mass,” so I guess I lost that title.
I’m here today to fix all that for you. Let’s just see what we can cut from the Mass to accommodate your lazy Sunday schedule. (The Packers aren’t even playing!)
We could start by cutting the Offertory collection, that’ll save at least three and a half minutes. It’s costing you money, it’s boring and I never know when to stand up. Then there’s the Sign of Peace – touching each other which I don’t like – at least ninety seconds is saved and I don’t need to Purell myself. (Can Purell be a verb?) Prayers of the Faithful, Petitions? Downer – it’s always about people in need. If we decide to keep it, I think people from the Highlands should write them – always upbeat and thankfully celebrating who they are not. (I always carry my passport when invited to the Highlands; just in case.) Rewriting those prayers would not only raise our spirits but reduce the Mass time by another four minutes.
There you go. I just saved you five minutes for your lazy Sunday. (And the Packers aren’t even playing.)
If Advent is about the making of the bread than Lent says that it’s time to bake it. Life-giving food has been prepared for each of us by Jesus. In our lives Lent is not about adding or deleting to our lives any more than we can add or delete parts of the Mass; but Lent is about transforming. It is about moving around some of those “deck chairs” in our lives.
All of us will still be “us” when these six weeks of Lent has ended. I’m not planning any big changes in my life and I trust you’re not either. Nothing will change. The Lenten question for us is what can we transform in our lives, in our families, neighborhoods, in our world that is closer to the heavenly bread that we bake together today. That bread remains bread but we believe it’s so much more than bread. Aren’t we up to being a little more of what God created us for?
You are right in that Jesus transformed the world around him. We can transform the world, rearranging the deck chairs but that would cause us to adjust to the different pattern of the chairs on deck. This is something most of us will not tolerate, for it does not conform to our ideals in which the caves we hide