“Let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us….” Easier said than done! How can we “lay aside” our sins, and what is “the race that is set before us”?
During Lent, Christians traditionally attempt to achieve these goals by confession, repentance and sacrifice. But in the busy, larger, not-exclusively-Christian world that we inhabit, Lent can be a difficult time. Do others understand how we feel if we can’t share in a colleague’s birthday cake if we’ve given up sweets?
Perhaps we should dwell less on the uniqueness of our Lenten experience and instead understand that all humans need to commit to a cyclical observance of our broken-ness and need for purification.
On Yom Kippur, the Jew neither eats nor drinks anything at all, observing the strictest of fasts, and he spends all his waking hours in prayer. Do I understand or care about my Jewish brethren on that day in October?
Do I understand that perhaps my assistant has given me a project with too many typographical errors because it is the third week of Ramadan and he hasn’t eaten anything at all since dawn? Do I care?
Our Lord knows that human beings cannot endure a lifelong buildup of sins. But he provides all of us, at different times in the year, with a vehicle by which we can live anew.
During this Lent, I am praying that we Christians will persevere in running the race, which I believe to be the “at-one-ment” of humans with God…and with each other.