THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Tuesday, March 23rd
Read Philippians 2:1-11 and 4:5.
Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…
Philippians 2:4-5 (NRSV)
Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5 (NRSV)
To gentleness belongs ability to bear reproaches and slights with moderation,
and not to embark on revenge quickly, and not to be easily provoked to anger,
but free from bitterness and contentiousness, having tranquility and stability in the spirit.
Today our spiritual invitation is to Let our gentleness be known to everyone. Gentleness is a sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behavior, founded on strength and prompted by love.1 Why is our gentleness essential as we seek to show and share the love of Christ Jesus?
Gentleness is not timidity or weakness; gentleness is built on inner strength and love. Our gentleness comes from centering ourselves in God, trusting we are infinitely beloved, and finding an inner strength to withstand hostility, insults, criticisms, or blame from others. When we are wounded, we need the strength of the Spirit to keep from wounding back; to respond instead with grace, mercy, and dignity. Gentleness is choosing to act with the “sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behavior” that comes from our love for God and humanity.
The gentleness of Jesus in the Philippians 2 passage helps us understand why he was so compelling – why people were willing to drop everything and follow him. Jesus emptied himself, looked to the interests of others, and only sought to humbly and obediently serve God and God’s people. This sense of gentleness and acceptance in his presence certainly beckoned people to come and follow him.
Today I fondly recall a small chapel on the campus of Lourdes University, a Franciscan university sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio. Portiuncula Chapel is modeled after the 12th century chapel in Assisi, Italy, in which Francis received his first followers. When Jim and I lived in the area, we loved to go to the chapel for prayer and reflection.
The quiet chapel rests at the back of the campus, humbly welcoming guests to come inside and pray, light a candle, kneel at the altar rail, or sit and reflect. As soon as we entered the door, we were embraced by a warm, sacred, cloistered atmosphere. We were comforted by the soft fragrance of burning candles. We were hushed by the dim glow of lamplight and the reverence of lingering prayers from those who had been there before us. I have found that even without intentional prayer, my time in the chapel brought great peace and stillness to my soul.
When we are gentle in spirit, we become like this chapel – a haven of peace and stillness. Our gentleness makes us more approachable, less intimidating. Those who have been wounded themselves will find in us a safe sanctuary where they are received with kindness and invited to drop their burdens. Standing in the strength of God, we become both the refuge and the open door. In us, people will see the Christ who welcomes them in, embraces them in warmth, comforts their wounds, and provides sanctuary for their souls.
May we Let our gentleness be known to everyone, as we trust that Christ Jesus warmly welcomes us into his presence and grace. Our Lord is near.
Our reading for tomorrow is Galatians 6:7-9.
Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com