The passion journey of Lent invites us to join Christ in the astounding journey of becoming the outsider. God becomes human not to overpower, not to exclude, and not to condemn. He comes with the message of the Father. I love my enemies. And I will lay down my life for them.
When we fail to take seriously God’s love for his enemies, we embrace a diminished God, a God who commands others to love the enemy, the outsider, and the unclean but who doesn’t seem to live by that same standard. When it offends us that some are too inclusive, we plug our ears in the face of his beloved Son, who runs toward those who are lost. And when we fail to engage Christ’s passion as people of compassion, we keep ourselves from being moved by God’s always astounding love for those we expect least deserve it.
Lent invites us to this kind of radical love. It invites us to solidarity with the outsider – the illegal immigrant despised by the politicians, the earthquake survivor forgotten by the media, the East African famine ‘statistic’ who aches with pain each day, the driven entrepreneur who lays alone in his bed each night, the sex addict whose brain is so enslaved that he cannot muster the will to stop, the housewife whose husband visits strip clubs while his wife cries herself to sleep, and the Jihadist who hates America and will die for its defeat. If we cannot believe God can love even the worst of these, then we cannot take the Jesus of the Bible seriously.
In this respect, Lenten politics is neither left nor right. Lenten politics is love. And this Lent message of solidarity, compassion and love for the “least of these” challenges each one of us. Lent invites us to the way of Christ, a way of suffering servanthood that defies logic, politics, and dogmatics. If we’re not challenged, we’ve closed our ears to the radical words of Jesus.