This past weekend we learned of a terrible event that happened back in late November, when Ethiopian Orthodox Christians gathered for a festival along with others seeking refuge from the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region. Eritrean soldiers arrived at the monastery and opened fire, killing over 70 people. Other recent news including the killing of 18 protesters in the military crackdown in Myanmar.
And then I read a third article, in which I learned that laboratories across Africa and Southeast Asia stand ready to manufacture vaccines to meet a global shortfall—but the patent holders are unwilling to share crucial information that could save hundreds of thousands of lives.
I have to tell you this, my friends: I read all these stories and my Lent just broke open. What can I think, or say, or even pray in the face of such pain?
I have to take refuge in the cross, in Jesus on the cross, at that execution place where this season is leading us. Jesus knew. Jesus knew what would be in the hearts of all these victims. Even more than that, he knew what would be in the hearts of all these perpetrators. And his heart went out—to all of them.
I’m not a gardener, but many of my sisters are. What I have learned from them is that when the earth shatters—a little bit—seeds can find soil in which to grow. When our humanity shatters, when our hearts shatter, then there is a place for God’s love to enter and take root and flourish. It’s difficult not to focus on the wound that shattered the heart, even the wounds that shattered Jesus’ body, but behind all the pain is God’s intentionality. We are wounded, we are suffering, we are victim and perpetrator, but we can all be redeemed. We can all enter the Kingdom. Jesus knew all humanity’s cruelty and selfishness—and died for us anyway.
That is where Lent is headed, where Lent has always been headed: to the cross. The world is just making it a major point, this week, to remind us of that.