The Eleventh Hour

So, you’re lying on the couch in the evening, watching some random show on the television receiving a much needed escape from all of the tensions and anxieties of the world. With a dim light in the background and the window blinds wide open, you are relaxing and fall asleep during your viewing. And then, a few hours later, you awaken, blinds still wide open, just before sunrise. The television is still playing, and you look around and find everything seems perfectly ordered, so you just lie there a few more minutes. And then something happens, the sun begins to rise. And as the warm glow of sunlight begins to seep in through the windows, you begin to notice some of the dust that has accumulated in your house. You notice a cobweb which has formed perfectly in the corner where the ceiling and the walls meet. You notice some of the dust which has formed under the table secretly on the hardwood floor. So, you stop looking around and shift your focus back to the television, and notice that it is getting harder and harder to see what is on the screen. As the sunlight begins to brighten, the screen on the television begins to seem dimmer and dimmer. At this exact moment, you have one of three options; you can either close your eyes and go back to sleep, you can throw closed the blinds and continue in your distraction, or you can embrace the light of the rising sun, turn away from the distractions, and begin to clean.

To me, this is the perfect image of what Great and Holy Lent is. This is the perfect image of our Lenten journey, our journey towards the Resurrection. We have all, you and I alike, fallen asleep in our distractions, in our darkness, and now as we near the Resurrection of our Lord, we slowly see the dawn rising and must make this same decision; will we close our eyes and go back to sleep, will we continue in our distraction and block out the light of our Christ, or will we embrace the light and turn away from our distractions, allowing his light to reveal to us that dust that we have allowed to accumulate in our lives? St John the Theologian warns us that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have communion with him and yet walk in darkness, we lie-and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:5-6).

See, Lent is this great time. It’s the time for us to turn away from these carnal passions and lusts, from these distractions. To no longer allow the lights of cell phones and televisions to illuminate our lives, but to throw open the blinds and allow the light of Christ, the true light, to reveal to us all of the places that we have allowed this dust to accumulate in our lives. To allow this pure light to come in and drown out our distractions and help us to focus on what is important. In so doing, he reveals to us our strengths and our weaknesses, and to be truly profitable, we must focus on and confess those weaknesses, knowing that it is in our weaknesses that his strength is truly revealed. It is through our humility that his glory is revealed. It is through our faults that his healing is magnified. Every morning we pray, “if thou hast mercy on a righteous man, it is no great thing, if thou savest a pure man, it is nothing wonderful since they are deserving of thy mercy. Rather, make known the wonder of thy mercy in me, who am wretched, sinful, and defiled and show thy compassion. Poor in all good works, I am a pauper, abandoned to thee. Save me for thy mercy’s sake O Lord, for blessed art thou, unto the generations of generations.” It is when we truly grasp our weakness that we learn that his grace is sufficient. And we must understand that the more we embrace that light, the more dust will be revealed, and thus the more grace we shall receive. Once we, through the grace of God, overcome the larger sins, then the smaller ones will be made known to us. I once read, when asked “what do you do in the monastery,” a monk replied, “we fall, we get up again.” And that characterizes perfectly the life of any Christian. We strive for the “righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21), we fall, we get up. And each time, it serves as a great chance for our spiritual growth.

This week marks the final week of Great and Holy Lent. Regardless of how any of us have done thus far during this years journey, let us remember the parable fo the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20). The workers who were hired in the first hour (6 AM) received the same pay, one denarius, as though who were hired in the 11th hour (5 PM). It is not too late, my brethern, to open the blinds and allow the light of Christ to shine in and reveal all of the dust we have allowed while drowning in the distractions of this world. Whether we have perfectly kept the fast from day one, or whether we have stumbled along up to this very point, Lent can, in fact, be equally profitable to each of us, we have but to open the blinds.

Christ is in our midst.

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