Long after the ashes have been wiped from our foreheads we are still called upon to live out our Lenten journey, for it is in those days that we will experience the temptations to satisfy our various hungers with temporal and temporary food, the temptations to believe in our own power and authority, and the temptations to be less than we are called to be.
It is then we will need to recall that though the ashes on our foreheads symbolised our sinfulness, the cross traced with it remains forever the means to our salvation.
The gospel passage today invites us to share in the glory that is the Transfigured Christ, and challenges us as well to come down from the mountain and live out daily the meaning of that transfiguration.
From the time of Moses, through the prophet Elijah, to these modern times, the world has only benefitted when we have fully, consciously, and actively participated in the salvific work of Jesus Christ. The truth is that God is not only calling us to go to Church, God is calling us to BE His Church, the hope of our world.
With Carnival just ended, there is the annual call for us to go back to the olden days of the mas produced by Wayne Berkley and Peter Minshall, and the music produced by the Mighty Sparrow and Lord Kitchener.
With the crass utterances of those who hold the reins of power, there are those who recall the erudition of politicians like Lionel Seukeran and Basdeo Panday.
Faced with declining numbers in Church, there are those who recall the days when Churches were packed, albeit with worshippers reciting the rosary during the Mass. Ashamed and embarrassed by the seemingly unending scandals of our priesthood, we call for a return to the days when our clergy was holy though distant and apart from us.
Notwithstanding the apparent validity of the calls to build tents on those mountains and savour the moments, Jesus challenges us who say we are believers, to take the poisoned chalice of today’s society and convert it into the cup of salvation.
Pope Francis reminds us that the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a club for saints; and that Church is not where we go, but who we are. Sadly, we have substituted so much brass for gold, that our people don’t even expect the supernatural when they go to church.
Like a woman groaning in the pangs of childbirth, our country today cries out for justice, for peace, for mercy, and for good men and women to step forward. As Catholic Christians, we can ill afford to sit on the sidelines and complain. Our role, as Easter people, is to come down from the mountain, and live out our Christianity every day, in the midst of the morass, and in so doing bring about the conversion so desperately needed. Our role is to live Lent long after the ashes have been washed away.