The movement that is chronicled by Sacred Scripture places, in a privileged way, is the Exodus experience. In an epic sequence, the Hebrew are drawn out of slavery by the divine power of God through the desert and to the land of promise. This sequence, drawn out of slavery by divine power, through the desert and onto the land of promise became a paradigm for each moment of renewal. In each experience of renewal, the divine power has been the key ingredient. However, it is a divine power that reveals the nature of God. Words such as justice and strength are marshaled as manifestations of God’s nature, but divine power reveals more than anything else God’s compassion.
This compassion of God is transformative. The Hebrews, as they made the perilous journey away from slavery become a people. That is, they acquire a shared identity in the common experience of being set free and the help they render one another as they make their way through the wilderness. Because of their becoming a people, they are further transformed into the People of God, Israel, and so enter the land of promise.
In the person of Jesus, the sequence of renewal is once again engaged and leads beyond renewal to New Creation. The Lord, making manifest the compassion of God, draws another generation of persons into the wilderness experience. A movement away from the accustomed way of life that had become more rigid than life-giving. In other words, life itself was at stake. Death was the slavery that stole freedom and identity, even the identity of being the People of God. To be set free, divine compassion in the person of The Lord, journeyed to the depths of human darkness: fear, violence, betrayal, despair, and death. Three days later, the Resurrection. The paradigm changed forever and became the paschal mystery: passion, death, and resurrection.
Lent will always be about the compassion of God drawing us into a participation in the paschal mystery, the pandemic has made this practically impossible to avoid for many of us. We have come to know the face of today’s human darkness that is the very stench of fear and violence engendered by racial and gender prejudice, the betrayal engendered by entitlement and indifference to the suffering of the humble and the reality of a virus that has taken the lives of the young and old, the rich and the poor.
It is very cold, just before dawn. We may find ourselves feeling cold, the pandemic is not at all over. The “third day” for us has not yet come. However, in the person of the Lord, the promise has been made. To journey with him, allowing him to journey with us in our paschal mystery, is to journey into the promise of a land where no more tears of grief will be shed, this land is called the Reign of God. The blessing has been given, we can become truly the People of God as we become empowered by the grace of Our Lord’s Resurrection/our Resurrection.
Father Francisco Gómez, S.T.