I haven’t written any posts that coordinates to the liturgical seasons. But today being the Fourth Sunday of Lent and what I learned from the Gospel message unraveled by the Priest in the sermon, prompted me to write something about lent and what it has taught me this time.
Fourth Sunday of Lent is also known as Laetare Sunday. I don’t think many of the Sri Lankans are aware of this Sunday, because I sure wasn’t. Laetare Sunday is basically a point of the Lenten Season, where the people express/ anticipate the Joy and Hope of Easter. Basically, you take a break from the rigorous life style adopted during lent and be a bit light hearted. This is shown in the rose coloured vestments of the Priest.
Today my day began with the morning mass, where the Priest entered, we sang the entrance hymn, then he greeted the congregation and gave a little introduction about today’s Gospel, asked forgiveness for the sins (penitential act), Kyrie Eleison and then… the Shock of Lent! He recited the Gloria! Ignorant congregation, along with the Priest recited it, while some of us were awestricken. It is a known fact that Gloria and Alleluia, according to tradition and as a norm are NOT SUNG during Lent. Because Lent is a period of repentance and sacrifice, so the the joyful elements are omitted. But breaking this norm, Gloria was recited today and I considered it to be a major liturgical blunder, being the liturgical terrorist that I am. Suppressing my temper, I participated in the mass.
During the time of the Sermon, the Priest, Rev. Fr. Nilendra Goonasekara SSS, mentioned about today’s specialty. Had it been said at the introduction, then he would’ve been able to hit it to my hard head and I also would’ve joined in with Joy. What I’m still not sure is, whether he made a genuine mistake by reciting it or he did it because the day was significant. Personally, coming off from the traditional framework of portraying lent as a period of mourning and weeping, I think that this is more of a Joyful period. More joyful than Christmas. Because of the pomp and purple carried out during Advent, the lenten season seems to be on a lower tone, whereas for Christians Lent should be the season of Celebration. It is during this period that the Promised Messiah fulfilled the Promise of God, Salvation for all men. Yes, I’m emphasizing the fact that we celebrate the Death over Birth. For Christians, what is inspiring and what makes us stand out is, we celebrate suffering. Be it the Passion and Death of Jesus or suffering in our own lives. We take pride in sacrificing our lives for Christ, hence we uphold the martyrs of the Church. This is not because we are some cannibalistic, blood thirsty beings but because we speak of a life beyond the present. A life that we’ll be rewarded based on our present, where the creatures will meet their Creator, face to face. So lent should give us all the more reasons to be happy. If God did not take the form of flesh and come down for me, had He not suffered on the Cross for my sins, if He didn’t rise from the Dead to save me, would I have Faith in Him? Will I believe, that no matter what, He will guide me and take care of me? So lent for me is Celebration of My Faith. I’m not telling that we should break off from the traditions of Fasting, Penance and Sacrifice but do these with joy in your heart instead of considering them to be a pain to yourself.
Today’s Gospel, John 3, 14-21 was about gaining eternal life through the Cross. Though nothing inspired me when it was read, I was shown the mirror when Fr. Goonesekara broke the word at the sermon. He explained, what I solidly knew in my head but failed to put into practice. We all have crosses in our lives, not literally but in forms of family problems, addictions, work issues, financial problems, health complications, etc; Like it or not, we are not God or Christ to bear them up, when the river banks break we give up because at the end of the day we are all human beings! If you make your own choice of giving up without consulting the Almighty One, then later on, you might realize your mistake, like I did today.
During my internship period, the company that recruited me, initially promised me many things. But later on I realized that none of them were gonna be fulfilled, I asked for what I was promised and murmured just like in the wilderness. Though some changes were implemented, they were like giving candy for a kid to just make him stop crying for a while. So I rebelled again and kept on doing so. Once the contract ended, I finally got what I wanted to do. Then again, they made the wrong decisions made on wrong assumptions and stationed me in no man’s land. Still for all grinding my teeth, I continued by following the advices gained from others. And all this I did with the Faith I had, considering it as a glorification of Christ. After 15 months the limits I set for myself, broke! I ran out of oxygen, so chose to “Resign”, sugar coated version of quitting, running away. The decision was a battle between the head and the heart. Former kept on saying, “Leave!” while latter, “Just a little more, you can do it! Try hard! It’ll get better”. Me being the master of my own will, chose the former.
Fr. Goonesekara, mentioned in today’s reflection in his very own words,
“True Discipleship is NOT to run away!
You have to stand firm!
Dig in and dig deeper!
Pugnaciously, Tuck your chin in and Drive Forward!“
Coming back to me, what did I do? Clearly I chickened out and ran away! And trust me, no theology can stop a person from making some huge blunders in their lives. Looking back at the time I spent, were the 15 months worth it? Did I learn anything? Would I wanna erase it from my memories? Yes it was worth it. What I learned during this period, I’m sure I’ve not learn in my past 21 years. Work wise, I’ve learned about different technologies, tools, etc; from the perspective of life, I think I acquired my doctorate. I’ve seen people coming from different walks of life. The arrogant, proud, humble, EverReady assistants, hilarious, addicts, perverts and many more. I’ve seen mountains wash off and new mountains rise up, those who were not aware that though people think they’re stupid, they are actually innocent at heart, the undeserving receiving praises and the deserving pushed back. With regard to my decision of quitting, I certainly made a mistake. If I had the patience to go through 15 months, why not a little more? Once a friend gave me a valuable piece of advice, though I didn’t get it then, today I understood it, “Don’t hate your job! Don’t fall in love with the company you work!“. As usual, I followed the opposite.
As for me, things would’ve been different if I had held a little longer. I could’ve paved the way for new opportunities for myself. But nevertheless, being the spoilt brat I am 🙂 I’m sure God still plans better for me (probably a heavier cross 😛 ) and I have to learn from my mistakes. So the moral of the lesson is, no matter what, hold on tight to that Cross! Do NOT give up! God sees things differently, actually He even sees the brighter side of Black. When He says in Jeremiah 29, 11 that He has planned something good for us, believe it as you believe that you are alive! So if you ever think of giving up, just remember,
“Stand Firm! Dig In and Dig Deeper!” 😀
All the best!