Listen carefully, my child,
to your master’s precepts,
and incline the ear of your heart. (Prov. 4:20)
This is how the great Monastic Rule written by St Benedict over 1,500 years ago begins and it seems to sum up well the attitude of the Christian to this Season of Lent – we are to listen ‘with the ears of the heart’.
To what should we listen? To the world around us which clamours for our attention about the next ‘must have, must do, must be’? To the wars and rumours of wars and the increasingly alarming tales of our inhumanity to brothers and sisters, near and far? To the catalogue of failed promises, abuses of position and authority, and the scant regard for the precious yet fragile gift of human life?
Solely to do this is to run the risk of being so overwhelmed by the darkness of sin as to be unable to muster the confidence to light the one candle which can dispel that darkness. In this Season of Lent we are to listen rather to some ‘Good News’, the fundamental and perennial proclamation of the desire of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – to draw us into greater and deeper relationship and communion.
It is the proclamation of a dignity founded not on what we can do or earn or own, but on the once-and-for-all offering made by Jesus, a self-giving love which is renewed for us each and every day in and through the celebration of the sacraments.
The Lord’s own invitation to us is that we play our own unique part in this ‘Good News’ for the world – ‘Do this in Memory of Me.’
And that one candle which can set about dispelling the darkness? You will hear of it when you gather in your parish for the Easter Vigil. As the Paschal Candle is lit, we proclaim the Risen Christ as ‘the Light, rising in glory, which dispels the darkness of our hearts and minds.’