The End of Lent

Not that Lent is like a final exam or anything, but today is the last full day of Lent.  We’ve had thirty-nine days to prepare for the Triduum and Easter itself.  How’d that work out for you?  Are you a better you than you were on Ash Wednesday?  Have you been successful in your penance(s)?  Of course, the answer is between you and God.  Nobody else needs to know.

In fact, if the goal is eternal salvation, then even we don’t know how successful we are.  It’s one of the beauties of our Catholic faith.  We never know for sure if we’re going to heaven or not which should motivate us to keep trying to improve ourselves every single day, not just for the forty days of Lent.

Many of our protestant brothers and sisters believe that once they come forward at the “altar call”, once they’ve been “born again”, that they’re saved.  “Once saved, always saved” they say.  This can have one of two different results.  The “saved” person can think that they have a free pass, that they’re “in” no matter what they do in this life.  Or, they can believe that they have a responsibility to act as a saved person would act, following the Ten Commandments to the letter.

But for us, we’re never quite sure.  We live in “sure and certain hope.”  We’re pretty sure we’re going to heaven, provided we frequently receive the sacraments, especially the sacrament of reconciliation.  If we die in a state of grace, we may spend some time in purgatory, being cleansed of our sins, but our ultimate destination is heaven.  There’s just enough uncertainty there to keep us on the straight and narrow.

For centuries theologians have debated the fate of Judas.  Is he in heaven or is he in hell?  We can’t be sure.  After all, he played a role in salvation history that had to be played.  He really didn’t have much choice in the matter.  Then, as Jesus hung on the cross, didn’t he ask His Father to “forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  Wouldn’t Judas be one of “them”?

For that matter, if you accept my premise on Palm Sunday that you and I are more responsible for Jesus’ death than Judas, or the Jewish leaders, or the Romans, then aren’t you and I part of that “them” that Jesus forgave?  If that’s the case, then don’t we have a “get out of jail free” card?  Are we forgiven because we know not what we do?

Jesus told us time and time again what we must do to get into heaven.  But, He knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows that we won’t always do the right thing.  So we continue to do our best, at least most of us do.  If you’re reading this, then you’re probably someone who does.

As we put another Lent behind us, I pray that you may have a blessed Easter season and that you’ve developed some good habits over the last few weeks that will stay with you long after the Easter candy’s all gone.

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One Response

  1. […] The End of Lent (deaconcast.com) […]

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