Japan today has suffered an immense earthquake. They are shaking, and we watch in terrible awe as tsunami waves wash over homes and villages in videos posted on websites and blogs all over the world, connecting us instantly in this digital age. Nearly two dozen countries are issued warnings that more may be coming, more waves and more terror. Even to the borders of our land…
Once again in this season of Lent we find ourselves "shaken" in another realm. As the physical world shakes, the realm of the spirit is rocked by news again of the actions of some of Christ's followers who have clearly not followed Christ. These acts have torn at the very fabric of our Catholic heart - and they tear at us in these first days of Lent, stripping us just as Christ was stripped of his robes in His Passion. Horrendous sins that shake us. We deeply feel the tremors and destruction of these sins committed.... and the aftershocks are sure to last throughout this Holy Season of Lent and up to the very shadow of Good Friday's Cross.
Is anything solid anymore, anything reliable, anything sturdy enough for us to walk on without giving way under our feet?
Lent promises no security either, I'm afraid. Maybe just the opposite. These 40 days are designed to shake us to our foundation as well as anything.
Lent is a Lion. It knock things off our neatly organized shelves. It breaks things, breaks us. It makes us uncomfortable. We are reminded of our own fragility, reminded of our own death, our own sins. Ashes, thorns, nails, hunger, thirst, fasts. We are afraid. We grumble against Lent as this Mysterious Shaker, this Destroyer, this Lion because it strips us down. It cleans house. It takes and scrapes and we are empty, homeless as our brothers and sisters in Japan and so many lands across the earth right now.
Why take these things from me? My security, my comfort, my routine? Why?
Because there is More coming. Because He is coming, and a terrible beauty will be born if we allow Him to fill us. We were not made for comfort. We were made for greatness… made for a Fullness of Love that the world cannot contain. And so it trembles, it shakes. For us to be filled with this New Love we must first be emptied. As Christ was emptied, as Christ was in an earthquake, then the tomb opened, then Christ was filled with New Life.
I don't like the process either, but if I want the More that I have seen glimmers of in the world, then I have to be willing to let go. All these tiny little strings I've made to secure myself to this world, to be safe, to protect myself.... they keep me tied down. I have to cut them. I have to shake or be shaken, and that is the real question.
Like tsunami waves moving closer to land, we are coming closer everyday of Lent to Mount Calvary, to the cross, to death. The normal human reaction to all of this? Run the other direction. No thank you. But all of us must be shaken up before that final shaking off of our "mortal coil" in death. If we can't allow ourselves to be stripped now, and to enter into the white hot furnace of silence, will we ever know who we truly are? What we're truly made of?
What vision does God have of us... of our full potentiality? He sees us in the storm, He is in the storm too, in Jesus. There in God made flesh, the ultimate Storm arose, of Love meeting hate, Truth meeting lies, and the battlefield was His Sacred Heart. A Heart wrapped in thorns, and pierced. We must have His Heart. If we can't be stripped on Good Friday, shaken and emptied, can we ever be filled, and clothed in the glory of Easter Sunday?