Lenten reflection often stirs up in me this kind of eager anticipation, even while I feel the lingering bite of a cold wind. Lent holds death and life for us. Nasty ashes on our foreheads, hunger pains and giving up treats, and at church the doom, gloom and boom, boom, boom of nails through flesh into wood, alongside with: candles in darkness, bright colours discovered in the grass, and a new tomb, with the rock rolled back for us to see its emptiness. We smash up our attachments to creature comforts during Lent, only because we are so close to the brilliant and sustaining reality of the Resurrection – the definitive answer to sin and death. Even at our worst, we can’t keep God’s love from coming back to us at Easter time. Even the worst we’ve seen, comes back as the best there is.
I see our community, our country, going through a similar journey right now, through the pain of death towards some kind of resurrection I cannot see at this moment. If you did not know, Canada has had a law against doctors giving sick patients lethal drugs for the purpose of assisting in their suicide. The law was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, and the Government has about a year to respond with one of three options: do nothing and let the law disappear, make a new law to replace the old one, or use something called the “notwithstanding clause” to keep the law in effect.
The issue of assisted suicide has very strong feelings associated with it. I have heard people in the community shaking their heads in disbelief and horror at the thought of doctors, ministers of care, administering death to their patients – strong emotions. I have also heard people in the community who abhor slow, painful, lonely death – many of these are doctors and health professionals – and react in disbelief and horror at the thought of letting dying people suffer longer – strong emotions. With these strong emotions, it’s very easy to judge other people harshly because we don’t agree with them. I think this judgment happens when we forget our faith.
Can our journey through this Lent help us respond to people with courage and compassion? Can the witness of Pope Francis’s call to mercy extend to the most vulnerable in our society, to those who help them, even to those people with whom we strongly disagree? Can Jesus, who went willingly to the cross out of love for us, inspire us to go willingly into the reality of death, to not abandon those whose suffering breaks our hearts, and even face our own doubt and fear that there is no Resurrection – no redemption – no reason for suffering?
I believe the answer is yes. I believe in the Easter resurrection. I believe the hope of Christ can lead us through death and into peace and joy. I believe our parliaments, our courts, our hospitals, and yes even our homes and workplaces can move from ashes to glory, in the right way and at the right time. Let us pray for the faith and the hope that God gives, that the worst we’ve seen will be transformed into the best there is.
Even the worst we’ve seen, comes back as the best there is.
And conquered every fear I could imagine.
Help me to live each day remembering that You are alive,
That You are bigger than anything or any situation,
And that Your power is real.
Jesus, you're my hero and I'm walking with you.
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