Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

March 16, 2016 / By: Dr. Michael Cogan

 

Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Daniel 3:52-56; John 8:31-42

Interestingly enough, the idea of being a descendant of Abraham and a child of God as described in today’s gospel is a relatively new experience for me.  In fact, the Lenten season, in many ways remains a new and exciting experience.  In part, this is due to the fact I spent the majority of my life oblivious to the concepts of religion and spiritual awareness.  The presence of any type of religious activity was essentially non-existent during my first 40 years.   

One particular event captures best my state of mind during this period of my life.  In July 1986, I began boot camp at Ft. Benning, Georgia as a newly enlisted infantryman.  There were 200 of us assigned to our training company and we were instantly miserable, scared, and wanted to be anywhere but the inferno of a training center they called Harmony Church.  On the first Sunday of boot camp, we were given the option of attending a religious service in an air conditioned church or suffer through two hours of grueling physical training in a sand pit under the hot Georgia sun.  Given the two options, church seemed a wise choice.  As we marched off, I was startled to see a small group of my peers being led to the pit by two Drill Sergeants.  I was not sure what to make of their decision but was confident I had made the right choice.  The journey to the church was brief and we soon found ourselves filing into a large white structure.  Within minutes however, I left the service to join my peers in the pit.  

Much has changed.  I reflect upon this act often when I consider my faith journey which began in earnest 10 years ago.  Each time I do this, with today being one of those days, I think back to the opportunity I ran from so many years ago.  As it turned out, today’s Gospel adds to this reflection through the words of Jesus when he stated “I know that you are descendants of Abraham.  But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you.”  As I am continuously learning, these words and many of the readings shared during this Lenten season serve as a precious reminder to embrace our role as Abraham’s children by choosing forgiveness, compassion, and humility over condemnation, intolerance, and self-importance.   I am thankful for the Lenten season as I continue to grow in my faith and work toward becoming the loving and compassionate husband, father, friend, and colleague I am called to be.

Mike Cogan
Vice President for Institutional Planning and Decision Support