January 2023: Preparing for the Lenten Journey

Michael A. Marinelli, Ed.D. ‘76
Dear Friends,

February 22 will be here before you know it, and on that Wednesday, the Season of Lent begins. Lent is a time of preparation for the celebration of Easter. It differs from Advent in that it is a more solemn time, when we reflect on our own faults and failings and consider ways to make change. 

As the liturgy and music director in my own parish, I have revisited Mass readings of the Lenten Season many times over the years, and each time, I find something a little different that gives me pause and reflection. For me, reading through the Gospel selections from the first through the fifth Sundays of Lent creates a guide or sort of roadmap for my Lenten journey. Before we begin this Lenten Season, I share with you some of my most current reflections.

Starting with the first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel tells of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. Three temptations are presented to Jesus: to change stones to bread to satisfy his hunger after fasting for forty days; to test God’s power to save him should he jump from the parapet of the temple; and to be given power over all people of the world. All three temptations are about “self,” making sure “I” am taken care of, protected, and in charge. Jesus rejects all three, acknowledging God’s work in and through him will help guide his life’s decisions.

From the desert to a high mountain, the Second Sunday of Lent’s Gospel recounts the transfiguration of Jesus. Transfiguration is defined as “a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.” This miracle that happened to Jesus himself shows him in a state that might be considered what heaven is like - more purified, perfect in nature. For us, it is both a sign of the promise of eternal life and a challenge to continually “transfigure” ourselves on life’s journey to become the best versions of ourselves.

In the Gospel reading for the Third Sunday of Lent, Jesus meets the woman at the well, who, after having a conversation with him, believes that he is the Messiah, because of all he knew about her life. Have we developed that same deep belief in Jesus because, through prayer, we realize that he already knows us completely? This is our invitation to grow in deeper relationship with our Savior.

Performing another miracle, Jesus, in the Gospel account on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, gives sight to the man blind from birth. While the blind man could now see with his eyes, he could also see with his heart, and know that Jesus had revealed himself to him through his genuine love and compassionate healing for others. But the Pharisees could also see that Jesus violated the Jewish law of the Sabbath, and they remained blind to the greater good of Jesus’ actions. Once again, we are invited to choose to be like the blind man who could then “see” or to be like the Pharisees who were “blind” to the expression of God’s love in the world.

Finally, on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Saint John recounts how Jesus raised his friend, Lazarus, from the dead. The account has many different parts, beginning with Jesus’ disciples discouraging him from not going back to Judea where they feared he would be killed. He went despite the warning out of love for his friend and his friend’s family. Jesus knew that Lazarus had died, and yet he returned and told Martha that Lazarus would live. Marth responded in complete faith that she new he would “rise in the resurrection on the last day,” to which Jesus responded, “I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Lazarus came out of the tomb at Jesus’ command. So, if we believe Jesus’ words, we, too, are not relegated to the tomb when we pass away, but rather “Come out” and are “untied” from our burial cloths and “let go.”

What a journey! From desert to mountaintop, sacrifice to glorification, revelation to acclamation, darkness to light, death to life, we are each invited to make our own personal Lenten journeys. What will be our desert and mountaintop experiences, or our conversations at the “well” with Jesus? What will become our moments of enlightenment and our tests of faith? Wherever our personal journeys take us, I hope we find peace and contentment through a deepening relationship with our God that will only increase our genuine joy at Easter.

Have a Good Lent!

Michael A. Marinelli, Ed.D. ‘76
Head of School
Archmere Academy is a private, Catholic, college preparatory co-educational academy,
grades 9-12 founded in 1932 by the Norbertine Fathers.