Though I have many faults, I must admit: I am diligent when it comes to maintenance for my family’s automobiles. I visit my mechanic regularly for oil changes and tire rotations, and the eleven-year-old car my son Jeremy drives boasts an odometer reading of 210,000 miles. But despite my attention, every so often a little icon on the dashboard lights up to indicate something is not quite right and needs more TLC.
Things were simpler when I first began to drive; clear red “Oil” or “Temp” indicators in the older cars were obvious pleas for human assistance, but the modern picture icons are a bit too vague for my liking. (Wow, do I sound even older than fifty now…!) What did that little thermometer dipped inside the beaker indicate? Probably a problem with the temperature, I guessed, and switched off the air conditioning. Here was a tougher one: what was the little gravy boat with one single drop falling from the spout trying to tell me? The pot roast is finally ready?! Or, do I need to invite someone over for a turkey dinner?! I asked my choir friend Mark for interpretation, and he stopped laughing long enough to give me that incredulous look all my friends eventually adopt. In real-world, Chris-speak, he told me the icon meant the engine needed more oil.
At least there’s one last unambiguous indicator light that remains on my car’s dashboard display: “Maintenance required”. Those two words are a clear-cut alert something’s gone awry and the vehicle needs attention under the hood. Too bad people don’t have one of those installed on their own human body’s dashboard, I thought.
Then it hit me: we’ve passed Laetare, or Rejoice, Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent. We’re rounding the corner towards the Triduum, towards Easter, towards Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. It’s high time we realize our faith lives might have some “maintenance required”, red indicator light or not. With only a few weeks remaining of Lent, it might be a good time for all of us to take a look under the hood.