Lenten practices take time, practice, devotion, and patience. We are often tempted to ignore our spiritual practice and rush into Holy Week. Many will ask, “shouldn’t we celebrate and rejoice on Palm Sunday? Shouldn’t we rush to the empty tomb just like the disciples?” Yes, but within context of the entire story. There is joy at the end of the story, but it is important that we take time to focus on the total ministry of Jesus and the joy that can bring.
In Luke 10: 1-24, Jesus appoints additional disciples to go ahead of him and visit every city and place he intends to go. They are to travel in pairs. They are instructed not to carry a wallet, a traveling bag, or sandals. Take what you have. Hurry. Don’t stop to greet anyone on the way. Stay where you are welcome. Be courteous, kind, and eat what people serve you. Heal the sick and tell people, “The kingdom of God is near to you.”
These disciples go, obediently perform mission work, and return. The disciples come back very happy. They were not promised lush accommodations. They were not promised lavish meals. They were not promised a living wage. They were told to go and perform the work of a missionary on the charity of others and they returned full of joy.
The disciples performed great miracles on the authority of Christ. The sick were healed, demons were cast out, and people found salvation through the message of Jesus. The disciples are full of joy because they were instruments in God’s plan. Performing the work of God gave them joy. In short, they have joy because they were used by God in a mighty way.
The work that we are given may not be glamorous, glorious, or even miraculous. The challenge is to be faithful and obedient, no matter what task we are given.
When we are busy doing the work of Christ, let there be joy in our hearts. When the work seems tedious and complicated, let us focus on the harvest. Apply these lessons to your spiritual practice for Lent. May God give us a holy perspective on the tasks we have in front of us and the ability to rejoice through the entire journey.
God bless you on your Lenten walk this year.