With today’s celebration of Ash Wednesday, we enter into the Season of Lent which is a privilege
time, a God given opportunity stretching for 40 days, to review, examine our attitudes and transform
them to live an ever more meaningful relationship with our God and one another. The Word of God
addressed to us today is truly motivational
Lent is a season for refocusing on the suffering and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we will be
ready to embrace the good news of the Resurrection.
Why this emphasis on suffering? Because Christ saved us through an act of suffering. He bore in his
own person the weight of our sin and died for us on the cross, where suffering and love coincided.
And the Church is the Body of Christ, which participates in Christ. Therefore, we shouldn’t be
surprised that we will be called upon to suffer out of love. In the economy of grace, God may use our
suffering to bear the burden of another member of the Body of Christ, just as one system can take up
the work of another, or one organ can support another.
So as we begin with Ash Wednesday, let us resolve to focus on Christ’s suffering, and to unite our
own suffering–through fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and reflection on the Stations of the Cross–with
the suffering members of the Church. It is not the destination but the journey that will ultimately
Lent is a time for us to return more seriously to our own interiority. This return is meant to facilitate
an examination of our life to decipher as to what extent we are in line with the expectation of God
with regard to us. It is preferred time to examine our relationship with ourselves, with God and with
Relationship with ourselves: What do we feel within ourselves as moral and spiritual persons? Are
we happy with the kind of life that we live, with the attitudes we have cultivated, with the manner of
our going about in fulfilling our duties and responsibilities, with the way we react within ourselves in
times of joys and sorrows, sickness and frustrations, to joyful and frustrating experiences? Do we feel
happy, fulfilled or sad and depressed in the way we live our life and whether we take effective steps to
experience the abundance of life that God wishes for us?
Relationship with others: What do we feel with regard to one another? Are we making efforts to
mend our strained or broken relationships? Do all that we say and do draw us closer to one another or
bring about conflict, division and thus increase psychological distance from one another in love,
genuine understanding, sympathy, compassion, forgiveness and have care and concern for one
another? How do we respond to the misery and poverty of one another?
Relationship with God: Do we take God for granted in our daily life? Do we deepen our
relationship with him through a life of genuine prayer and contemplation? Do we treat all that we
have and use for our welfare as gifts of the Lord in the process of our pilgrimage towards him? Do we
have the sensation of being truly dependent upon him and live a life of abiding gratitude towards Him
for al that we are, possess and experience in our daily life? Or do we life as proprietors of all that we
use and own? In other words, do we live an attitude of loyalty, docility and humility before him ?
We may be lagging behind in many of these aspects of fall short of what is expected of us by our God;
we may even go deliberately against his wishes and realistic expectations. Having discovered the
nature of our shortfall, Lent is a time for us to respond to God’s cry “Come back to me with all your
heart, fasting weeping and mourning.” Fasting is a sign of giving up everything that is superfluous,
abstaining from unhealthy and unnecessary activities, sharing of our time and talents; it also entails in
taking up charitable works as genuine expressions of our care and concern for one another especially
the less privileged ones; it includes lifting up our brothers and sisters who are in need of our alms and
prayer. In his Lenten message Pope Francis states, “To the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by
loving and helping the poor we love and serve Christ’.
All this is primarily a matter of our heart and not an outward show. “Let your hearts be broken, not
your garments torn’. “Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men; let your left hand know
what your right hand does, let your almsgiving be done in secret” and not for cheap popularity and
exhibition; do everything with a joyful heart.
Lent is also the time for weeping an mourning. ‘Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and
four your children.’ Weep for your sins, for your wrongdoings, for your failures. Mourn for your
guilt; take responsibility for your past, own your past and at the same time let go your sinful past,
transform it. Be reconciled with yourself, with God and one another. This is the repentance return,
conversion we are called to bring about.
Lent also is the time, in the spirit of the Lenten Message of Pope Francis, to experience the poverty of
Christ who gave up everything that belonged to him as God and embraced our nature so that we may
become rich by his poverty. The Pope says, “God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven,
like someone who gives alms from their abundance out of a sense of altruism and piety. Christ’s love
is different! When Jesus stepped into the waters of the Jordan and was baptized by John the Baptist,
he did so not because he was in need of repentance or conversion; he did it to be among people who
need forgiveness, among us sinners, and to take upon himself the burden of our sins. In this way he
chose to comfort us, to save us, to free us from our misery. It is striking that the Apostle states that we
were set free not by Christ’s riches by his poverty.
In other words, Lent is the time to confront what the Pope Francis terms physical, moral and spiritual
destitution. Physical destitution is to be confronted with a fair distribution of wealth by converting our
consciences to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing. Moral destitution is to be eliminated by
enabling one another to come out of the slavery to vice and sin. Spiritual destitution caused by turning
away from God and the rejection of his love needs to be overcome by a return to the values of the
Gospel such as reconciliation, forgiveness of sins and experience of God’s mercy. Lent, therefore, is
an opt opportunity for this. In the Words of Pope Francis, “May the Holy Spirit, through whom we
are ‘as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing and yet possessing everything’ (2 Cor 6:10),
sustain us in our resolutions and increase our concern and responsibility for human destitution, so that
we can become merciful an act with mercy”.
Application: I take time to review my life since last Easter and take note of the progress I have made
with regard to my relationship with myself, others and God. While I thank the Lord for the growth I
have achieved in this line, I also take stock of the areas I need to change, improve and transform by
way of letting go my sinful past. In what concrete ways do I experience physical, moral and spiritual
destitution within myself and how can I remedy the same?
I wish you all a gracefilled season of Lent.