Lent is a wonderful time for us to learn or to re-learn the story of our salvation, which is at the heart of our Baptism. How does one go about telling a story, however, that spans several millennia and encompasses 72 books (and thousands of pages) of Scripture? Actually, the entire story of our salvation can be summarized and captured in three words: the story of our salvation is one of rescue, restoration, and reassurance. Over the next few weeks of Lent, I invite you to join me in reflecting on these three aspects of our story. This week, we begin with rescue.
The greatest myth perpetrated upon humankind by the forces of evil is that we can be self-reliant. This was the sin of Adam and Eve. It was not just about disobeying; it was about their decision to eat fruit that would make them “like God” or, in other words, completely self-reliant.
Now, of course, self-reliance is a virtue when it comes to everyday tasks, and we seek to teach our children how to become self-reliant. On the spiritual level, however, there is no such thing as self-reliance. At our deepest level, we are incapable of sustaining ourselves. We are creatures, not Creator. People dealing with addictions and working through a twelve-step program understand this: in order for healing to take place, they need to admit that they are powerless over the addiction and must rely on a higher power.
When it comes to sin, we human beings are addicted, which means that we possess an inability to stop engaging in certain behaviors that we know are wrong (as described by St. Paul in Romans 7:15: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate”). We are in need of an intervention. And that intervention is Jesus Christ!
Jesus Christ is much more than good guy, a swell fella, a wise philosopher, or a smart teacher. He is our Savior! By his Cross and Resurrection, we have been saved. Why? Because he defeated sin and death and lives with us so that we can rely on his grace to overcome sin.
Rescue is one of the “threads” of Sacred Scripture, since the entire story, beginning with God’s rescue of the enslaved Jewish People and leading up to the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, is a story of rescue.
During the Lenten season, we practice the discipline of fasting—an action that reminds us that we are not self-reliant. Our growling stomachs are living sacramentals that remind us of our utter dependence on nourishment that comes from outside of ourselves. May these 40 days be a time of embracing our Rescuer—Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life—so that we may receive the nourishment we need to overcome our sinful tendencies and live as a new creation!