The long Lenten twilight
A beautiful hymn before bedtime in the Liturgy of the Hours in Spanish reads, “The night does not interrupt your history with humankind. The night is the time of salvation.”
Using this image of night, I would say that Lent is for us, liturgically, a walk in the darkness waiting for the light that will bring us the resurrection of Jesus.
The people of Israel walked 40 years in the dark desert before they could see the light of the Promised Land. That time was necessary to mold them into perfect trust in God their savior. Lent shapes us to understand the meaning of the resurrection of the Lord.
Jesus himself wanted to experience the darkness of the human being during his long stay in the desert, to bring new light to our entire humanity. He experienced silence, loneliness, temptation, insecurity, uncertainty, emptiness and a lengthy wait.
Jesus learned that darkness, silence and night do not interrupt God’s process. God continues to save each aspect of our human life, even those that our intelligence is unable to grasp or our heart is unable to accept.
The night of our intelligence is a time of salvation, because there we learn that the wisdom of God is the source and the summit of our limited human wisdom, surpassing the limits of the logic or coherence of this world. The night of our heart is a time of salvation, because there we learn to detach ourselves from the merely physical to discover our true origin and ultimate goal.
Our earthly pilgrimage through the darkness of Lent teaches us to offer those around us the same patience that our Creator has had. In his love, he gave us free will, even at the risk of losing us or of painfully delaying our unity with him and with humanity.
The darkness of Lent trains the eyes of our souls to see the tomb as the way toward the light, not hopeless corruption. The extension of this liturgical season allows us to appreciate the infinite greatness of each human being, which requires time to see the light after being buried in the darkness of sin.
Selfishness, violence, greed, lust or envy throw dark shadows on our souls, causing us to feel fear, desolation and bitterness. The night is a time of salvation only when we allow ourselves to be guided in the darkness by the one who has defeated all darkness with the light of his resurrection, Jesus Christ, our lord and savior.
The hymn cited above ends with the proclamation, “The night was witness of Christ in the tomb, the night saw the glory of his resurrection. The night is the time of salvation.”
Let us walk through the darkness of Lent in trust, holding the hand of the Risen Christ, the light of the world. Mary will teach us how to follow that eternal light.
Read the Spanish version of this column.
Northwest Catholic - April 2020
Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., is auxiliary bishop of Seattle and vicar for Hispanic ministry.
Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., es obispo auxiliar de Seattle y vicario para el ministerio hispano.Website: www.seattlearchdiocese.org/Archdiocese/auxiliaries.aspx