We begin the season of Lent from Wednesday, February 10th, which is known as Ash Wednesday. Lent denotes 40 days of penance, a time of conversion and a time for deepening one’s faith. This season has twofold character: one is that we recall our baptismal commitment to live as the children of God and the second is that we make amendment for the failures to live up to that commitment through prayer and penance. Thus it is a call for us to see more clearly the gravity of sin, as an offence against God, our loving Father in Heaven. In this way, we are called to prepare ourselves better, in order to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, namely, his suffering, death, Resurrection and Ascension.
Moreover, the season of Lent invites us to a greater awareness of our Christian responsibility to care for the needs of others. In his message for Lent, Pope Francis states that Lent is a time of conversion and a time to deepen our faith, demonstrating and sharing it through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The Pope insists that the Catholics are called to recognize the greatness of God’s love, seen in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the obligation to communicate God’s love and mercy through our words and deeds. According to him, the root of all sin is our thinking that one is god and there is no need of God. In the words of the Pope, “The danger always remains that by a constant refusal to open the doors of their hearts to Christ, who knocks on them in the poor, the proud, rich and powerful will end up condemning themselves and plunging into the eternal abyss of solitude which is hell.”
The Sunday Gospel readings during Lent this year will be from the Gospel according to Luke and they fittingly and gradually lead us for a deep personal conversion. They focus on how faith transforms our life, giving us the stories on the temptation of Christ in the desert, the Transfiguration, the barren fig tree and the story of the prodigal son and the story of the adulterous woman, who receives God’s mercy and reforms her life.
As we begin the season of Lent, let us fix our attention on the precious blood of Christ, the blood that was shed for the forgiveness of our sins and ultimately for our salvation. Let us consider this Season of Lent as an opportunity, which God has given to repent for our sins and return to Him.
Wishing you a holy season of Lent,
Fr. Arul Joseph V.