But that isn’t the part that’s striking me, instead it is verse 15 which could be paraphrased ‘everything the family of Israel has been waiting, hoping and longing for over many centuries is at hand, it’s Go time people!, if you want ‘in’ then it’s time to change your lives, take God more seriously than you ever have before, the choice is yours’.
All of the lives of the patriarchs, the judges, the prophets, the kings, have looked forward to the promised Messianic era. It has been a very long wait. Yet once the signals turn green with the baptism of Jesus, and His time in the wilderness, and John’s arrest, action time begins. Lepers get cleansed, demoniacs get freed, all kinds of illnesses get healed, and invitations to radically surrender our lives to God’s will are issued.
We’ve lost the sense of just how big a deal it was back then, and of how bold you had to be to make pronouncements like that.
It still is a big deal. The offer of eternal life with God always is.
Such a big offer requires a very big response; mediocre responses and ‘What are the minimum requirements?’ responses won’t do.
Ash Wednesday, which we celebrated a little differently this year, helps underline the magnitude of the offer. In past years the ash was moistened with holy water and used to make a cross on our foreheads. Under pandemic restrictions the ash with as little moisture as possible was sprinkled on our heads instead. What a reminder of how ephemeral our lives are here on earth, and of how fleeting they are compared to eternity!
It is still Go time for us; if we want to accept the invitation. When we weigh up live on earth vs live eternal in heaven it should be sufficient motivation to re-order our lives towards the goal of heaven. Any other goal is worthless compared to that.
Lent is the graced time to make those necessary adjustments to re-order our lives.
May this Lent be one that really counts, and one that finds us responding, ‘I want in, no matter what; help me change, help me take You far more seriously’.