If, like me, you’re a bit forgetful from time to time, then you’ve probably come up with that lovely expression in your defence “... but I’m only human!” It expresses frustration at our forgetfulness and, as such, it represents our humility and our vulnerability. It’s a confessionof how we are all prone to mistakes and miscalculations in life, simply because of our humanity.
The nice thing about being human is that we have a great range of emotions at our disposal that can fit any situation, allowing us to make a difference to people and situations. Sadly, we also have to deal with the downside of our humanity, with the expressions of anger, resentment and awkwardness that we all know about, and claimingthat “we’re only human” is much less convincing when we get things wrong.
For Christians, the weeks of Lent, leading up to Easter, are focused on remembering our humanity and the impact that God’s grace can have in our lives. The Lenten story of Jesus who spent 40 days in the loneliness of the desert sets the tone for the season, because in that story God shares our anxieties and cares. In the Wilderness, starved of food, Jesus found a confidence and trust because he discovered a humanity prone to vulnerability and temptation, and also a relationship with his heavenly Father that gave him strength and hope. We will hear that passage proclaimed in our churches in thecoming weeks and you can read it for yourself in St Matthew’s Gospel,chapter 4, verses 1 to 11.
That story of the temptation of Jesus serves as our introduction to the season of Lent, which invites us on a journey of discovery that will lead us to the high point of the Christian year. The word ‘Lent’ comes from an old English word meaning ‘Spring’, but this doesn’t express anything of the meaning of this season in the Church’s year.The discipline of keeping 40 or so days of Lent runs from Ash Wednesday, reaching its climax of celebration on Easter Day. It’s aseason that invites us all to pause and reflect, before the great celebrations that accompany Easter. In many ways, this reflects the journey of Jesus into the wilderness of the desert, where he experienced hunger and turmoil.
At some time in our lives, we will all be hungry; for food, for love, for security. These are the times when God can appear most against us. Yet perhaps it’s on these occasions that God comes closest to us when we’re vulnerable and wounded, because to be fully human is to recognise that we share something of the God who willed our very existence. How can anyone say that they are “only human” when they have the image of God within them? That would be like saying one of the works of Mozart is only another piece of music or a painting by Vincent Van Gogh is merely one more piece of art. Each represents the soul of the person who created it, just as each of us reflect the image of the loving God who created us.
With every blessing,