February 18

Lent is for lovers

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” -Hosea 2:14

Lent and wilderness.

Throughout this holy season given to us by the Church, we see the wilderness or the desert play prominently in the Scripture readings. As a season of fasting, penance and almsgiving, it can feel like a wilderness. We have heard that the 40 days of Lent recalls the 40 years the Israelites spent in the desert unable to enter the Promised Land. What we don’t always consider is the above verse from the prophet Hosea. Lent IS a desert wilderness, but Lent is also a profound romance.

Lent is the courtship of a man seeking to make the woman he loves his bride. It is his all-out, no holds barred, last-ditch effort to capture her every attention. It is his plea: let me steal you away for awhile, so I can have you all to myself. I want you all to myself so I can make sure you’re not distracted by your job or your hair or the weather or what is on TV, because I’m going to propose! I want you to be my bride! I want to give it all for you! Please set aside anything that could distract you from this all-important moment!

The wilderness is stripped of comfort and ease; it can be hard and unyielding. There is little to capture our attention in the barren wasteland. How is this a love story, a lover wooing the beloved towards betrothal? God almighty desires that we should come away with him, seek him as our only enduring comfort, and call upon him alone when it is hard and things get barren. He wants to remind us that all of life is a desert without him, the wellspring of life itself. He wants us to have nothing but him in a world that is captivating and alluring at every turn. He wants to speak tenderly to us, but he doesn’t want to shout over the cacophony of our daily lives.

This Lent, think of this time as a whirlwind romance in a foreign land. Your Lord and God is taking you by the hand and leading you to a quiet place, where he will whisper to you his deep, abiding affections. As the forty days draw to a close, he will slip a ring on your finger, promise to lay down his life for you, and lead you to a candle lit church where he will give himself to you day and night without ceasing unto eternity.

worship-easter-vigil

{Note: this post first appeared on the Ministry Blog for Catechetical Leaders in the Diocese of Crookston}