Lets’ be honest, we all prefer Advent to Lent! There is a very specific atmosphere and feeling that Advent creates. The lights, sounds and symbols of Advent leading to Christmas fill us with joy and happiness. Lent on the other hand, at first, seems to generate and create the very opposite. Lent lasts for close to forty days and we are asked to fast and do penance. There is a sense of emptiness and bleakness about the journey of Lent even as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection and the season of Easter.
As our Pilgrimage and Journey through Lent begins, let us take a closer look at the call and invitation that Jesus puts before each of us. Lent is not a meant to be journey of sadness, guilt, joylessness, fasting and doing without the things we enjoy. It is offered to us as a time of prayer and preparation. It a time when we are invited to renew, restore and refresh our friendship with God, others and ourselves. It is the ultimate spring cleaning!
It is offered to us as a time when we can, with God’s compassionate help, take an honest look at our lives. We can ask ourselves where we need to make changes and improvements in our daily life, even small ones. The invitation from God to each of us as Lent begins is ‘Come back to me with all your heart.’ The call of Lent is that, like the Prodigal Son, we come to our senses, admit that we have made mistakes and return home. When we return home to God, we are welcomed with a tender forgiving heart and open arms, as we hear the words, ‘Welcome home, and let the celebrations begin.’ Why? ‘Because there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent.’
Around this time, we often ourselves and each other the question, what are you doing for Lent? This is an important question. We are encouraged to do something during this sacred season. We might give up something like sugar, smoking, alcohol or things that we like and that give us pleasure. Traditionally this is called fasting. This helps us to think less about ourselves and focus our attention on others and their needs. However, a deeper and perhaps more challenging question to ask is, ‘What is Lent going to do for me? Am I open to letting the prayers, images, symbols and the gospel message of Lent speak to me and change me over the coming weeks?
These are the hopeful and tender words that God speaks to us as we begin our Lenten journey; Now is the favourable time, (2 Cor. 6.2), I am making all things new, (Rev. 21.5), There is no need to think about the past, no need to think about what was done. See, I am doing something new, even now it comes to light, can you not see it, (Is. 43.18), Come, now, let us talk it over.’ (Is. 1.18)
Let us begin our Lenten journey in faith, hope and optimism!
- Michael Moore OMI
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