“Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.” –Psalms 40:5a

I’m so confused.

I tend to convince myself that I have a good, even initial, beginning when I hear the Gospels – usually something. Today is different. As I read today’s Gospel, I am completely confused. I started with nothing but confusion.

Is Jesus really saying, “don’t forfeit yourself to gain the world,” right after he says, “deny yourself”? Am I dim or do those seem like really conflicting statements? Once again, I am reminded of my limited understanding of a most gracious God. Perhaps this is my invitation this Lent.

As I prayed and prayed with this confusion, I remembered a lesson from one of my spiritual readings. In Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity, Ronald Rolheiser explains how Jesus held the tension of being a prophet and a faithful Jew. Sometimes his priestly call was challenged by his spirit of creating a world that didn’t exist then. In all things, however, Jesus hoped and remained close – united – with the Creator God and the Holy Spirit.

I see many tensions in my life too. When the Church’s actions – now and in the past – seem to ignite a cry in me that this is not what God’s church requires, how can I stay faithful to both? How can I remain in the limited expression of God’s love? How can I stay, build, and listen to both the world’s realities and God’s visions of my church, my Church, my home too?

In these tensions I imagine an invitation to reconciliation. It is in these tensions I not only understand who I am and what I am not, but also what is being forfeited when I forget the truth of who I am – and whose I am. May I remember this again.

Beloved brother, Jesus, thank you for your example of not shying away from the tensions. May I learn to grow in courage to enter and remain in the tensions that are present in my life – with faith in you, hope for a more loving relationship, and love for all of creation. Amen.

Vivian Valencia