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Bp. Dorsey McConnell on Lent

From the Rt. Rev. Dorsey McConnell, Bishop of Pittsburgh:

Jesus did not call His disciples simply to impart to them a body of religious knowledge. He called them so that they would become like Him. This was the normal expectation between disciples and their teacher in the ancient world. The students were called, not just to learn from their master, but to take him in, imbibe his character, soak up his way of looking at things, so that, by a kind of osmosis, they became extensions of the master in the world. However, the obvious difference between Jesus, the Word-Made-Flesh, and any other teacher is that He has the power actually to make His disciples embody Him. The more I look — with repentance, gratitude and faith- at Christ Crucified and Risen, the more deeply I receive His grace to become like Him.

Saint Paul frequently reminds his congregations of this simple fact. When they start to go off the rails, when they become proud of their “spirituality” as in Corinth, or obsessive about their rulebook as in Galatia, Paul says these are symptoms of people who have lost sight of the living Jesus Christ. They think they are worshiping Him, but they are instead looking at something else — a projection of their own pride and fear and desires, mixed in with a few Jesus-like qualities. What they are looking at is not an icon, but a mirror. And Paul’s counsel is pretty consistent: press the reset button. Start over. Look at Christ Crucified. Bring everything to the foot of His Cross. See Him especially in the “weaker brethren,” in the needs of the poor, in the faces of those you don’t particularly like, in the eyes of the one across the aisle from you whom you absolutely cannot stand. There is the Savior. Fall on your knees and adore.

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