Reflection at beginning of Lent


Readings: Joel 2:12-18; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

1. What is Lent?

Basically it is a preparation for Easter.

And what is Easter?

It is the commemoration and celebration of what God did for us in Jesus Christ.

And what did Jesus do?

He lived among us, gave us a vision of a full life (not just a religion),

Suffered and died on a cross –

Not as a sign of failure

But as a testimony of the greatest love

A person can show for a friend –

To die for him.

Through that death Jesus entered a new life

And he opened the door for us to share with him

The same fullness of life,

A life that can begin here and now

And go on without end.

2. Why six weeks?

Six weeks is about 40 days

And Jesus spent 40 days in the desert

Preparing for his work and mission.

3. How are we to prepare for Easter?

The Gospel suggests three areas:

Prayer, fasting and giving alms.

These practices are common to all major religions:

Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity.

In practice, how are we to do these things?

Each one needs to make their own choice.

Prayer can include:

  • Taking part in a Eucharist every morning
  • Setting aside a short period for meditation or reflection
  • Do some Bible reading or study
  • If a websurfer, visit a prayer website such as “Sacred Space”

(www.sacredspace.ie) (“Prayer is PC!”)

Fasting can involve:

  1. Traditionally people have given up some nice thing they like but don’t really need, like sweets, chocolate, dessert
  2. Many can cut down on alcohol or nicotine or any other addictive substance, perhaps as part of a permanent giving up. It can help to motivate if we remember these things are not very good for us anyway.

Alms-giving:

  • Can be linked to fasting.
  • Money saved from giving up superfluities may be redirected to helping those who do not have necessities for life.
  • In general, Lent is a time to become more aware of what life is about,
  • Becoming more aware of how I want to use my life, my gifts, my education,
  • becoming more aware of the needs of others and to realise that real fulfilment comes in making my contribution to building a more just society for all.
  • Let us use this Lenten time in a really constructive way.
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