The midway point of Lent is upon us, and I know in my own life how hard Satan has been working to focus my attention anywhere else but upon the Passion of our Lord. Has he been up to his tricks with you too? Let us then remember the words of Hebrews 12:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
"Run with endurance." That endurance part. Whew! The saints who surround us invite us to follow their example - and that is above all, to keep the eyes focused upon our Lord, upon Him who is the source of our faith and the one who brings it to perfection. Our blessed Lord let nothing deter Him from the path His Father appointed: the cross. If there is one thing that binds the saints together it is their focus upon the Crucified and Risen One. He is their life. And they, one and all, summon us to find in Him also our life. To not stop the struggle until our eyes are fixed on Him without fail.
One of the saints a long time ago, St. Augustine, captured the heart of Lent when he wrote: "Meanwhile brethren, that we may be healed from sin, let us now gaze on Christ crucified" (Homily on John 3) As the world around us and Satan and his minions all lure us to focus our attention elsewhere, anywhere else, but the Cross, the saints who surround us urge us not to give up the struggle, but to fix our eyes on Jesus that we too may endure.
My sister-in-law wrote on her blog recently a famous statement from a monk about what they do at the monastery: "we fall, we get up, we fall, we get up." Yup. Not just at the monastery, but in all of the Christian's life. We fall each time we take our eyes off the Crucified, but then we rise as we look to Him again.
Lord Jesus, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, keep our eyes fixed upon You, our Crucified and Victorious Lord. Amen!
Be Thou my consolation,
My shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion
When my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee,
Upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfold Thee.
Who dieth thus dies well. (LSB 450:7 - by Paul Gerhardt - one of the saints who kept his eyes upon the Cross and who was born this day 400 years ago.)