Sunday Lenten Reflection
What is Lent All About????
When you hear the word Lent, what comes to mind? Do you think of it as a time to do certain things? Serious things? Penance? Prayer? Fasting? Kind deeds for others?
When you think of Lent, do any particular images come to mind? Or occur to you?
I may come as a surprise to you to hear that Lent is an old English word for the season of Spring! And that is one of the prefaces for Lent (the prayer said right after the prayer over the gifts during Mass). This Preface speaks of Lent as a joyful season. But you might ask yourselves, how is that possible. How does that connect with the way we typically experience this Lenten season?
I would propose that Lent is a time for our hearts to know new life, the life that comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ. Lent is a season in which we recall, we remember, what God has done for us through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Yes it is true that forty days now stretch before us. These forty days invite us to once again recognize seeds of growth waiting to burst forth. This weekend we shall hear the story and the event that lasted forty days. The story is Matthew’s brief account of Jesus and his own forty days in the desert.
We know of the story of that great flood. A people who knew what it meant for chaos to invade their lives. They had seen their homeland invaded, and many of their loved one’s murdered and those who remained had been forcibly uprooted and taken into a foreign land. The same God who created everything and declared it “very Good” at creation, having watched wickedness take over in human hearts, and his heart was grieved, and so decided to wipe out all life from earth. Now while that might sound harsh, there are times when, even today, I can understand God getting upset with us. We look around at all of the recent tragedies and the lack of respect and dignity of human life in all of it’s forms and manifestations, that once again make our God’s heart heavy. But we know that Noah found favor with the Lord, he was upright, he believed in God and trusted God’s word. In the end, the chaos humans created was destroyed by the chaos of the flood and those forty days of rain. The story of Noah and the flood is the story of a second spring coming to the earth.
Still even more significant were the temptations of Jesus. The Spirit descended on Jesus, and a voice claimed his as “Son.” Nonetheless, Matthew tells us, “The spirit drove Jesus out into the desert where he remained for forty days, tempted by Satan.” Mark’s account is quite brief but the statement “the angels came and ministered to him” says it all!!!
My sisters and brothers in Christ, the emphasis is clear, just as Israel was tested for forty years, Jesus was tested for forty days. Jesus then is the new Adam, chaos was ended, and the original order was restored.
The Season of Lent presents us with our own forty-day period, a time for a new springtime in our lives and in our hearts. Lent calls us to move beyond th3e chaos of our own inner turmoil and move towards that inner peace which is the gift of the risen Lord.
When we think about Lent as a time to say no, where might that lead us? Possible to a greater freedom from the various powers the hold that prejudice has on us, from the hunger that lusts for more and more when others have less and less and from those impulses that can destroy not only ourselves but others and the world in which we live. It might not sound like much fun, but with the help of the invited Spirit, driving us even more urgently into our own deserts, it is possible that this coming
Easter will truly be a second spring, bringing renewed life into our hearts, our families and our parish…….JMJ…….May you all have a grace filled Lent… Fr. Bob!