In preparation for Lent, which heads up starts this Wednesday, I have been spending time in prayer asking the Lord how it is that He wishes for me to grow. This last year has been so full of change, transition, and growth. In my last blog post (which you can find here), I spoke of pruning and how the Lord has been asking me to give up things that aren’t so easy to give up.
“Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As much as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Jesus wants us to love our brother without limits. He wants us to continually give our brother the benefit of the doubt. As many times as we have been wounded, we must choose the better part and forgive. Love, as St. Paul writes 1 Corinthians, “It is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Love bears all things. That means we bear the wounds that have been given to us. Think of Christ on the Cross, he wore our wounds, our sins, on Him in the most real and tangible way. He did that because He loves us. As many times as we sinned against Him, marring His most precious Body, He forgave us. He chose in that moment to love us and let it go. He chose to bear that wound.
And that is where Lent culminates: on the Cross. Our entire faith comes down to this moment where Love bore all, where Love rejoiced not over wrongdoing but with the truth. Love was chosen more than even seventy-seven times. Christ chose eternity. He chose to love because He is Love.
I put this image of the Crucifixion to the right by Marc Chagall called White Crucifixion. Christ’s on the Cross is surrounded by suffering of Jewish people (Chagall was a Jew and this painting was a response to Kristallnacht). The evils we commit against our brothers and the anger we harbor are able to become such a tangible reality in relation to the Cross in this painting for myself. Love bears all. Love chooses to love seventy times seven.
This Lent, I challenge you when someone is late to think to yourself, “Well, they probably have a reason for it.” When your brother says something insensitive, remind yourself, “He probably had no idea that I was so sensitive about that topic.”
What are you giving up— or taking up— this Lent?