Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent
Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
There are many ‘saints’ that will never gain official recognition, but in fact they are often the women and men who teach us most about life and especially about the following of Jesus.
In one’s life journey it is easy enough to get seduced by the externals – recognition, status, acclamation. But in fact these are short lived realities, they like a starburst one might see during a fireworks display – they illuminate and excite, dazzle even, but after a short time the light fades and unless a more or equally spectacular burst of light is supplied, one is left in the dark again.
Real life, let alone one’s life as disciple of Jesus, must be illuminated by far more than this. It is not merely words words, status or office and dress, but rather witness, compassion and sacrifice. Yes, perhaps witnesses are ‘lesser lights’, but often they are more effective than all others.
The ancient Romans walking through the narrow passages of the old Forum at night could only do so if someone walked with them holding a lamp. At times our world can be like the old Forum – a place that is dim and isolating – and so we need witnesses to show us the way to a fully human and Christian way of life.
In following Jesus we share in God’s dream in that we can be a light for others; Lent is a journey too – a ‘walk’ one that can offer us the opportunity to trim our wicks, to gather greater reserves of oil so that our lamp might be one that shines for others to follow and indeed illuminate the ways for others.
Some years ago my aunty slipped gently into severe dementia. My uncle for the next 12 years visited her every day at lunch and dinner times to ensure that she ate her meal and was looked after in the nursing home. When she slipped into a form of coma he still came, but now to sit and be present. I often reflect on his example – he never highlighted it, but I saw it. His vow "to have and to hold, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health…" never was more evident to me. He, like so many people, has shown me the way, and not a word has he ever said about his role.
People often do not need teachings, but teachers. Not words, but example…
Fr. Denis Travers, C.P., is a member of Holy Spirit Province, Australia. He serves on the General Council for the worldwide Passionist Congregation and is stationed in Rome.