A SEASON OF SECRETS
As I walked through the computer lab a few days ago and passed by a group of children at work upon their assignments, we greeted each other. I stopped to say a personal word of appreciation to each one of them. However one little girl advised me not to appreciate her neighbor because she was actually cheating. “How?” She clicked on the Google icon at the base. Up popped an entertainment channel! “That’s what she does in between, when nobody is looking!” In that moment of revelation, someone was embarrassed, someone felt justified and, someone felt enlightened. It set me thinking deeply about the secrets we carry: secret thoughts, secret words and expressions, secret deeds, secret places, secret persons, secret habits and the list goes on.
Hide & Seek
Apart from that which we call personal space, we have that hidden space where our real lives are lived. As in the case of this student, the surface level of functioning can be quite different from this hidden level of functioning. This hidden level can grow corrupt. For a time it might give us great satisfaction as it satisfies our laziness, greed, our desire to feel one up over others, or other desires that consume us. From this level we gloat over others, from this level we mock or exploit or oppress others while appearing innocent. We might seem to get great satisfaction out of it, and appear successful and well accomplished, but deep down there is a gnawing restlessness. We might ignore the restlessness for a time and get on with our lives, but someday it catches up with us. A moment comes when the dichotomy of our lives is no longer bearable, and cries out for liberation from within. It is the moment when we want to leave everything, get up and go! Yet in spite of being ready, we find we are still incapable of doing it by ourselves.
The Season of Lent understands this cry of the soul, this desperate cry that emerges from secret realms. Though it may not be audible, it makes one restless, inconstant, frustrated and perhaps even suicidal. One becomes abominable in one’s own sight. The temptation to destroy this abomination becomes irresistible. The choice is stark: Death or New Life. But we realize we cannot do it alone for, as St Paul says, “Oh miserable man that I am, the very things I do not want to do, I find myself doing; and what I do want to do, I avoid doing!” (Romans 7:19)
Responding to Grace
The Season of Lent comes with the invitation to CHOOSE LIFE! This invitation begins at Ash Wednesday, bidding us to acknowledge the state of messiness of our hidden lives and placing before us a choice to return to God for our freedom.
The tussle between Pride and Humility is underrated but it is deep, pungent and staggering. How blessed is one who is able to say, “Yes, I shall arise and return to my Father.”
Let us consider the story of Matthew. Scripture doesn’t tell us much about him personally, but his profession is mentioned. Matthew was a tax collector, a customs officer, a publican, a man who served in the governmental system in his times. In Barclay’s book, ‘The Master’s Men’, we read about the kind of man Matthew must’ve been: ‘These customs officers were regarded as criminals. They were ranked among those against whom God had set his face against (Leviticus 20:5). In the New Testament they were classed with Gentiles (Matthew 18:17), and with harlots (Matthew 21: 31,32) and with sinners (Matthew 9:10-11; 11:19). It was considered perfectly right to use any subterfuge to escape their demands.’
Matthew’s custom’s office was by the sea-shore, where he would have listened to Jesus preach and teach. Something in the invitation of Jesus that day went straight to his heart. Something within him was stirred, waiting to be set free from the “inward” life he was trapped into. Matthew had a choice, the same choice the Lord places before us. Matthew was ready to go because it took Jesus Christ to see the apostle buried in the tax-collector of Capernaum.
Matthew responded to Grace, left everything behind, except his pen and parchment. Today we have a Gospel of Matthew. The Publican became a publisher of God’s Word because of God’s Grace that was able to do immeasurably more than he could imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
The light that shone on Matthew is shining on us, even if through what seems like a dark grim tunnel of Lent.
The brokenness and messiness of our lives is real but so is the Light of the Savior.
His edict still remains, “I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32). Knowing that Jesus keeps company with such as us is not only healing but also liberating at deep levels, especially the places trapped with ‘secrets’. Our secrets may run deep, but the blood of the Savior runs deeper.
The season of Secrets is here. May I invite you to an exchange offer: Old secrets for new! The great offer of Lent is to exchange abominable secrets for rewardable ones such as the secret of the Kingdom, the secret of eternal treasures, the secret places under the wings of God and the secret and mysterious ways the Lord works in our calling. The choice is ours. The favorable time is here. Lets Hurry up and come down! (Luke 19:5). No more hiding. Salvation is knocking at your door!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sister Berlinda D’Cruz is a Canossian nun based in Mumbai, India. Having spent over two decades in formation and administration across Africa and India, she is passionate about helping people through education and mentoring to wade out of oppressive systems in their lives. Sister Berlinda confesses her ordinariness albeit she encases an extraordinary secret: of course I’m in a muddle, but God still finds me delightful!