We just celebrated Christmas, didn’t we? How can it be time for Lent already? Strange as it seems, it is. Actually, though, there is a connection between the two seasons. At Christmas, Jesus is heralded as Savior by the angels; he has come into the world to save us from our sins. Lent develops this point by stressing the love of God in forgiving sinners. On the 5th Sunday of Lent, Jesus will say to the woman caught in adultery, “neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Even more amazing in the parable of the prodigal son on the 4th Sunday, a young man who has done everything wrong is welcomed home with joy by his father. Most comforting on Palm Sunday are the words of Jesus from the cross, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Jesus is very much aware that our sins have made the cross necessary, but he willingly forgives us. Then he forgives and promises salvation to the “good” thief crucified with him: “Amen, I say to you, this day you shall be with me in paradise.” In response to this forgiving love, Lent insists on repentance from us. Repentance means a true reformation of life, the sincere effort always to put God first. Love of God then must be accompanied by love for all neighbors, even enemies, since every human being is a child of God. On the 3rd Sunday, Jesus is very explicit on this point. Talking about some Galileans who had been killed by Pilate, he says, “But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did.” God gave us his life on the day of our baptism as he will give it to thousands of people in the United States who are preparing to enter the church at Easter. What a marvelous grace! Too often we fall short of living out that life and we need to recommit ourselves to it. This is Lent. God is willing to share abundant life with Christ’s followers in baptism and also to forgive those who sin but who repent. May we allow the savior who comes at Christmas to truly accomplish his purpose in us during this Lent.
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