Friday after Ash Wednesday, March 4, 2022
“The Glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” (Is. 58:8).
The three pillars of the Lenten Season are Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. I have often thought that there was one more pillar that is unspoken. It is clearly a foundational structure that holds up our spiritual practices not just during Lent but throughout our journey with Christ. That unspoken pillar is the action of standing in the gap for one another. The Scripture of Isaiah says it best. The Glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. We too are called to be the rear guard for our sisters and brothers and even the strangers in our midst.
When we think about the mission of Jesus of Nazareth, we see him taking on the suffering of the people. Their concerns and their needs are embodied by Jesus. He walks through the dark waters with them. The injustices, the oppression, and the isolation, Christ takes on these travails and links them with his own suffering and sacrifice on the Cross at Calvary. He stands in the gap for all of humanity. Jesus is not only sacrificed on the Cross- but Christ also becomes that bridge that allows us to cross over the troubled waters of our life into the promise of redemption and salvation.
We are called to be that beacon that illuminates “The Way” to Christ. The troubles of this world often leave us feeling as if we are on a precipice. Sometimes the feelings of despair leave far too many on the brink, in danger of falling and slipping down a slope into hazardous situations. Yet we as the Body of Christ are called to stand in the gap for our brothers and sisters. The Lenten Season began on Ash Wednesday. It is not a time of mourning. The diadem of ashes is to remind us that we have the promise of the one who stood in the gap and saved us. We too are to stand in the gap and help Our Jesus up the road. We are to stand in the gap like Simon of Cyrene and Veronica who steps into the journey of sorrow and the Women of Jerusalem who weep for all the suffering. When we step into the gap, we are standing in solidarity with our suffering servant Jesus. We fast and pray and give alms. Yet we ought not let this penitential season be done in solitary confinement. It ought to be a journey of solidarity- where we walk with others on this pilgrim journey. When we see someone falling, we hold out our hand to pull them up. If the burdens of the day have weighed heavily on the mind of another, let us sing Psalms of joy; we all need somebody to lean on, tell them to lean on me. At those times of grief and despair let us share the Good Friday narrative and Easter Sunday joy of Resurrection. There are still those in this world who do not know that Jesus is Real and we need to carry that lived reality to them.
“Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high!”
Authored: Valerie D. Lewis-Mosley, OPA, serves the Church as a Lay Associate Order of Preachers (OPA) of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, New Jersey. Her mission is “To Praise, To Bless, To Preach” the Gospel of Jesus Christ.