Michael Gorman's words below provide an excellent starting point for our Lenten journey.
Shall we begin our journey? There is no need to fear, for we are not the first to travel this path. Many have gone before us. Just listen and hear them as they echo Paul: "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."
The cross is the revelation of the love, power, wisdom, and even weakness and folly of God. The cross reveals not only the faithfulness of Jesus but also the faithfulness of God. The crucifixion and exaltation of Jesus bring glory to God. The cross, in other words, is not an independent story but part of God's universal and cosmic story. The cross links ethnic Israel to the Israel of God (with Gentiles "grafted on," according to Romans 9-11), the first Adam to the second Adam, and the creation of the cosmos to its redemption. This is why the "word of the cross" is "the gospel of God," and the "gospel of God" is "the word of the cross." Paul's narratives of the cross summon his hearers and readers to take their part in this divine drama and story by conforming to the cross in faith, love, power, and hope (Cruciformity 94).
Therein lie the radical experience and perspective of Paul: making a connection between faith and death, between believing and dying. Corresponding to the obedient faithfulness of Christ, which was expressed in death, the believer's faith - the cornerstone of the believer's experience - is, from beginning to end, a liberating, life-giving "death," a response to God that Paul calls "the obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). This faith is somehow, as we will see, analogous to Christ's total commitment or "faith." The appropriate fundamental stance for human beings, then, is also faith, understood as an initial and ongoing experience of cruciformity (101).
Faith begins by acknowledging the faith of Jesus and dying with him by no longer relying on the law and the self for right relations with God. Faith continues by daily relying on Christ as the energizing force for all of life, and by allowing the faith of the Son of God, expressed in his self-giving, loving death, to reexpress itself in the life of the believer. The Christ who lives in Paul (and by extension in all believers) is the paradigm of faith, and of faith expressed in love (137-138).
What readers of Paul do not always recognize, however, is that for Paul suffering is a manifestation of love. For those who confess the love of God in the death of Jesus, two existential corollaries automatically follow: suffering for others is inevitable, and suffering for others must be motivated by love in order to be worthwhile. Paul not only believes this but attempts to live by it and to interpret his experience (and then by extension the life of his communities) in light of it. As we examine the texts in which Paul recounts and interprets his experience of suffering, we find four key elements of Paul's experience and its meaning for him:
1. suffering allows Paul to identify with and express to others the self-sacrificial, nonretaliatory love of God in Christ - that is, in Christ's death;
2. suffering is, for Paul, a chief source of his identity and honor as an apostle;
3. Paul is willing to sacrifice everything, even his physical life or his salvation, for the sake of others; and
4. even, and especially, in suffering, Paul experiences the love of God in Christ by means of the Spirit (199-200).