It is the fifth Sunday in Ordinary time and the liturgical colour is green; but I find an echo of what was once Quinquagesima, the 50th day before Easter and the beginning of the fast, when the liturgical colour was already violet.
Our journey to Jerusalem, our Lent, is to be a journey into light, a journey into understanding the mystery of divine love in the passion of Christ. Can the lessons and the disciplines of Lent really do that for us? Certainly, that seems far-fetched, but then, that is the way of faith. God gives much in return for little; he gives all in return for nothing. All in return for nothing: that is the divine charity which, as St. Paul explains in today’s Epistle, is to be the very essence of our life as Christians. Faith is an excellent thing, no doubt, and so is hope, but they are only a beginning. In heaven there is no faith; in heaven there is no hope, because heaven is the knowledge and possession of that eternal good, towards which faith and hope can only aim. In heaven there is only charity, the bond of love which unites lover and beloved. Without that love, all our powers are worthless: “sounding brass and tinkling cymbal,” or noisy nonsense. With the best gift of charity, we have eternal life. “For what shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8.35).
Therefore our journey of Lent is not just a journey of faith and hope, but a journey of love, a journey whereby we become more firm in that bond of love which unites us to God. It is a journey whereby we grow up in love. “When I was a child, I spake as a child,” says St. Paul. We are like children who babble aimlessly. Lent is a time to grow up and put away childish things.
Bach Cantata for Quinquagesima Sunday