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Weekly Reflection

Lent Is Here Again

Lent seems to come very fast every year after Christmas. As a matter of fact, it is not long we celebrated Christmas, and while we are gradually welcoming the New Year, Lent begins to knock at the door of our hearts saying: “Remember man you are dust and to dust you shall return” and or "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel”. Greeted with these scary words of the priest as he gives us the ashes on our foreheads this Wednesday, and faced with the sudden arrival of the Lenten season, it is not uncommon to see some Christians who feel reluctant to embrace the season with devotion.

However, Lent is not about feeling but about the Passion of Jesus for our salvation. It celebrates how Jesus secured salvation for us by his death on the Cross once for all. This act of love can never be repeated (Heb. 10:10). He did it for us and does not want us to do the same for him. As such, Lent is not a time to cry for Jesus or mourn his death. He said to the women crying for him: “Daughters of Jerusalem weep not for me, but for yourselves and children” (Luke 23:28). It is an opportune time to identify and break with the vices that make us hurt others and make life miserable.

For all who see Lent as a time of agonizing with Jesus, it is not a time to help Jesus carry his Cross. As Jesus puts it: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Math 16:24). Jesus is right, each one of us has enough personal crosses to take care of or carry daily. Let us just do what he tells us – carry your cross and follow me. Our parish will pray for the grace to do this by engaging in a Community celebration of the Stations of the Cross every Friday.

Because Lent celebrates the riches of God at the expense of Christ, it becomes for us a time we go out of our way to do works of charity to alleviate the problems of the poor and needy. Just as Jesus broke the bread of his life to give us life, we deny ourselves some edibles to feed the poor, visit the sick and those in prisons, welcome the stranger and cloth the naked (Mt. 25:36-40). In our parish, we will collect what we give up this season and send them to the poor and needy both within and outside our country.

While the church teaches us this time to understand and interpret our personal crosses in the light of Christ’s Passion, she also teaches us that Lent celebrates the victory of Jesus over sin. The best way then to achieve this is to die to self and rise to new life (2 Cor. 5:7), and to die to sin and live for God (Col. 3:1ff). We are to deny ourselves the pleasures of sin and follow Jesus daily (Mt.16:24). As a result, the Church invites each one of us this Lenten season to pin-point a sin in our life and stage a crusade against it. Our parish will crown this effort with the celebration of a Lenten Penance Service before Easter.

So, Lent is all about our salvation and well-being. Jesus will be glorified by our Lent if it brings about our personal transformation which comes from dying to sin, and selflessly serving the needs of others. This is the only way we can justifiably say that we have encountered Jesus and shared in his victory over sin, Satan and death. It is then that we could sincerely sing with John Newton the famous hymn:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me.... I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now, I see.