Let me start this letter with a simple greeting, may the Peace of Our Lord Jesus be with you. I wanted to write you this letter to give you some of my insight into Lent so that you can come back to and read as you get older in life. I begin with the simple Christian greeting to remind you that even though we are entering the season of Lent, Our Lord Jesus and the Peace he brings, is always with us.
When I was a small child, one of my earliest memories comes from this time of Lent. I must have been around 4 or 5 years old. One spring day, your grandparents took me to our church to see and be a part of a play of the Passion of our Lord Jesus. It was probably one of the scariest moments in my very young life to that point.
All of a sudden, your grandparents are yelling, “crucificalo.” Grandpa, dressed as a Roman soldier, was hitting Jesus with a stick. And then the unthinkable, at the end of the play, Jesus dies. I think I cried harder than I ever had. Your grandmother had to reassure me that this was all a play, that Jesus hadn’t died. I didn’t understand. I might have been a little upset with them that they were a part of Jesus dying.
Then came Easter Sunday, and as I walked into the church, there was Jesus. Very much alive, he might have even hugged me. I think I did end up crying again. My little mind was so relieved that he was alive. I think this was an opportunity for your grandmother to teach me that Jesus is always with us. No matter what we do to Him.
As I grew older, I can remember being a teenager or maybe even a young adult and struggling with not eating a hamburger on Friday, or giving up sodas for Lent. How frustrating it was that I had to stop doing what was a habit for Lent. How it all seemed like such drudgery, I don’t think the weather here in El Paso helped with that thought either, having all those windy and dusty spring days. They always seemed to happen over Lent. I had forgotten the relief I felt seeing the Risen Jesus on Easter Sunday.
But then comes Easter, and back to that one Passion Play when I was a little boy. How in our daily lives and our fragile humanity, we build habits that aren’t always the best ones, how those habits are lashes to the side of Jesus during his Passion. Lent is an opportunity that Jesus gives us to experience His Peace.
So Annie, let me leave you with this thought. Our Lord Jesus will always be with us, no matter what we do. No matter how often we deny him into our hearts, His Peace will persist. Lent is an opportunity for us to experience that Peace. And at the end of that Lent, there is Jesus always willing to give us that hug and reassure us that He is still present. I hope that the Peace of our Lord is always with you, sweetheart.