You can tell Lent us around the corner by the tone of the Gospel readings Mk 9:30-37. They are increasing the talk of the Passion of Christ. “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” To the disciples this is new, today it the foundation of our faith. In Jesus’s discussion He emphasizes the duty of service over authority. Jesus also mentions here the importance of children. “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” With this emphasis on children, I can’t help but notice the prominence of children in the two great celebrations of Christianity; Christmas and Easter. Christmas with the presents under the tree, and Easter with its baskets and bunnies and candy. They are the infant’s first introduction into the faith. That also should be the focus of both childhood feast days, and they are feast days in the truest sense for children. Both days are joyfully anticipated even if not for the right reasons. Easter does have a learning curve. Today it starts with an Easter basket or an Easter egg hunt, and that should correctly lead into the discussions and education on the good news of Jesus Christ. To the Apostles and disciples the order was reversed, Jesus told them of His coming death and resurrection. It was later that they learned to celebrate it. They did not anticipate Easter day, they struggled to reach it and were uncertain what awaited them. Theirs was a hard fought learning curve, and a struggle to come to terms with their newborn faith. That struggle brings us to the season that will soon begin, not the celebration of Easter but the struggle through Lent. In many parts of the world the season abruptly begins on Ash Wednesday, but in many localities there has been a building up to that Ash Wednesday. In many Catholic countries Carnival is in full swing. Some think of the carnivals of Europe, others of Louisiana, some South America and also the festive celebration going on in places like Haiti and the Caribbean. I know that some do not condone these celebrations because of their carnal nature, but they do bring so much emphasis to the Lenten season. They reach their peak at Fat Thursday, and properly abruptly stop Ash Wednesday. Properly celebrated they are also more festive and colorful than carnal, the sin becomes overly evident when celebrants only indulge in the excess and never plan to participate in the penitential season that follows. Greed and economics also tend to push what sells, and it is hard to peddle a fast. Still though, I am glad to see places that still celebrate Carnival correctly as one season that emphasizes the importance of the season to come. Finally, let me put a quick plug in for the carnival that is currently going on in Haiti !
Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time