What way is that exactly? Abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays? Budgeting a little extra for Alms giving? Giving up sweets or coffee or alcohol? Dedicating ten minutes a day to solid prayer?
If any of these come easy for you and do not cause you to feel the discomfort or pain of doing them, then I would have to say it’s not enough! Now before you rip this up and say who is he to tell me that, please continue to read on.
As Jesus journeyed those forty days he did it with a goal. A goal of uniting his heart, mind, and soul with that of our Father. He did it to test himself in a way we could not even imagine. He did it to prove to us that it can be done. Ultimately, he did it out of LOVE, both for the Father and for us.
When we are able to journey out for these forty days with that same understanding, it becomes evident that we should not be the same person we were when we began the journey. We end with a stronger relationship with our Savior, we end with a better understanding of ourselves, we end being united in His suffering...all done out of LOVE.
So let me ask again, what way is that exactly? Does it look more like; I am going to practice being more friendly to those I encounter throughout the day ending every encounter with “have a blessed day”. I am going to count to ten before I lash out at someone in anger. I am going to stop buying anything with sugar in it and the savings from it I’m going to give away. I am going to commit to reflecting on Matthew and John’s Gospels each and every day, taking one chapter a day. I am going to use my extra change and then add $10, $20 or $50 to it as my almsgiving.
My friends, suffering is what this season is about. Not in a depressed or brutal way, but in a giving way. This allows us time to think about what Jesus gave up during his forty days, how he grew in relationship with our Father, and what that growth prepared him for in the time to come.
That is the journey we are on. One unlike any other from years past. We recommit ourselves to not only doing more, but being more. Being that disciple we were baptized to be. Attending the weekly Stations of the Cross. Participating in our Bible Study: NO GREATER LOVE. Joining a new ministry within the Church. Volunteering at the Food Bank or at the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen.
It’s not going to look the same for each of us, but to experience lent is to be involved with something outside of ourselves. When that happens, LOVE is present and change has begun. LOVE of self, LOVE of neighbor, LOVE of God.
Have a blessed first week of Lent, and may your faith drive you to be more than yesterday!