Here’s a question for you: Who controls the TV remote in your house? No matter who it is, chances are they spend as much time channel-surfing as they do watching a program. The innumerable channels have given us countless choices. Don’t fancy those dancing feet on Dancing with the Stars? How about the fancy clothes on America’s Next Top Model? Not into The Voice? How about the voices on American Idol? The reality of the remote control is that we never have to endure one boring moment on television. We can choose to watch what we consider the most stimulating, intoxicating and exhilarating programs. The reality of Reality TV is that it has us so dazzled and distracted it becomes difficult to keep up with our own lives, let alone the Kardashians.
Unlike television, our lives aren’t always stimulating, intoxicating or exhilarating. In fact, life can be quite painful and we can’t simply change the channel when we encounter the pain of illness, a broken relationship, or the loss of a loved one. But, we do have choices. We can choose acceptance or denial. Denial, or the unwillingness to endure pain, perpetuates it. Acceptance, or the willingness to endure pain, leads to new life. The liturgy teaches us how to accept the pain of living. Each liturgy retells the story of a God who embraced the pain of the cross for our sake. Each liturgy retells the hope of resurrection. Each liturgy assures us that life comes from death. Each liturgy strengthens us to endure the daily dying that comes from living.
We first encountered this cycle of dying and rising in baptism. St. Paul helps us with its meaning. As he reminds the Colossians, “If you have really died with Christ to the principles of this world, why do you still let rules dictate to you, as though you were still living in the world?” What Paul seems to be asking is, why do we live as though baptism never happened? In other words, what if we lived as though death were already behind us? This is the reality of baptism, which calls us out of fear and into freedom. It’s to this reality that the Elect, who celebrate their third scrutiny this weekend, are being called. It’s this reality that we who are baptized are called to live. Lent is a good time to focus on that. So, put down that remote and reflect a while. Amen!