As we begin Holy Week, we pause to look back on what the Lord has worked in our hearts these past six weeks. And we look ahead to the Triduum, the sacred days of our Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection. Please allow me to offer a short reflection on the beauty of Lent, the inestimable value in meditating on Scripture, and a bit of encouragement for the days to come…
(The following event occurred at the parish where I volunteer in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program on Sundays. I had the privilege of reading Luke 15:8-10 with two seven year-old girls. This is some of the fruit of that morning’s reflection.)
After great excitement at learning a new parable, the three of us sat down to reflect on the actions of the woman and her pursuit of the Found Coin. First, we wondered why our booklet was titled the “found” coin and the Bible had it titled the “lost” coin. Certainly, the girls agreed the woman was truly happy when she found her coin. I invited them to bring over the Maxims cabinet to follow up with a previous conversation I’d had with them. (The Maxims are a collection of approximately twelve sayings of Jesus from the New Testament. They help us live the Great Commandment to love God and neighbor.)
One girl eagerly read them aloud while the other made two piles–those that fit this parable and those that didn’t. In they end they came up with three connections that seemed to expressed how the woman lived:
- “Ask, and you will receive, seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened.”
- “Always treat others as you would have them treat you.”
[The child commented: “Because she was nice to the coin.”]
- “When you pray, go into a room by yourself, shut the door, and pray to your Father in private.”
[The other added: “She was looking behind all the closed doors, praying the whole time.”]
Earlier this Lent I read a reflection by the late John Kavanaugh, SJ, who said that “Lent requires a tremendous psychological disengagement from our earthly prejudice.” My two young friends do not seem to be burdened with this earthly prejudice the way I am as an adult. The woman’s pursuit of her coin–seemingly worthless in value and certainly worth far less than the extravagant party she threw upon finding it–seemed entirely natural. So too is God’s pursuit of us. A few weeks ago we heard in the Gospel, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.” This is how the woman in the parable lived. My first grade friends connected that in the Maxims they selected. They invite me to shed my preconceived prejudices and hear the voice of the Good Shepherd calling me to remain in Him and bear great fruit. He calls us to the Cross. With death comes new life. It is in dying with him that we can rise to new life and truly bear great fruit.
Let us pray together and may you all have a blessed Holy Week!