We are entering into yet another Season of Lent. Lent, as we know, is the time to renew our lives through deepening of our life of prayer, meditating the Word of God, doing penance, fasting and almsgiving in view of reparation for our sins that we have committed. Some of our dear ones, who were with us to go through this Solemn Season last year, may have gone to their eternal reward. We do not know whether we will be given chance to complete this Season of Lent here or whether we will be able to enter into the Season of Lent once more in this life.
While preaching the Gospel of repentance, St. John the Baptist who came to prepare the people to accept the ‘way of the Lord’, said: ‘Even now the axe lies at the root of the trees; every tree that does not bear fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire’ (Mt. 3. 10). He exhorted people to ‘bear fruit worthy of repentance’ (Mt. 3.8). Through the prayerful reading or hearing of the Word of God, when we realise that we have gone wrong, we need to make every effort to change our ways. Through prophet Isaiah the Lord tells us: ‘This is the one whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word (66.2). Yes, God’s word as ‘sharpen than two edged sword’ (Heb.4.12), should ‘scan my life’ and remove all the wrong convictions, false prejudices and bad intentions from my inner being. It should serve as the ‘hammer breaking the rock’ (Jer. 23.29) of my hard heartedness and indifference to God and to my fellow beings. Each day is a gift from the loving hands of God to do good and to experience God’s love. Life is short. What good I can do today, I cannot postpone it for tomorrow, for tomorrow may not be mine. While choosing us to this life, God has “appointed us to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last” (Jn. 15.16). In my life-tree, I have to produce good fruits each day. Jesus said: “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom” (Mt.21.43). We glorify God and become the disciples of Jesus only by bearing much fruit. (Jn. 15.8)
Through all the prophets the Lord has told us how to reform our lives. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6.8). And ‘in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son’ (Heb. 1.2). “The church of the living God, as the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1Tim.3.15), is guiding His people through this Season of Lent, exhorting us to return to God, ‘turning back from our evil ways’ (Ezk. 33.11). “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, as on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors put me to the test, though they had seen my works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known my ways’. Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today”, so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3.7-13)
Yes, ‘today’ let me realize :
it is I who stand in need of change, for the Lord tells me: “After your coming back, strengthen your brothers” (Lk. 22.32);
it is I who have to take the initiative for reconciliation (Mt. 5.23, 24)
In humility, I need to consider others better than myself and to look into the interest of others than my own (Phil.2. 3,4)
I need to know the Lord (Hos.6.6), seek His will and make it my own (Mat. 12.50)
I need to pray always and not loose heart (Lk. 18.1); I need to ‘bless the Lord God, and ask Him that my ways may be made straight and that all my paths and plans may prosper’ (Tobit 4.19)
I need to trust in Him (Joh.14.1) and live the life of faith of my ancestors (Heb 11)
I need to share the blessings of God with the needy (Is.58.6,7)
I need to detach myself from addiction toTV serials and computer games, though they are ‘lawful for me, but not beneficial for my spiritual growth and will not help build up my life in you’ (I Cor. 6.12; 10.23) so that I can get more time to spend with you through my spiritual pursuits.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. Ash is imposed on our forehead with the words: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” or “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel”. With this disposition of penance and humility let us continue to make this blessed Season a fruitful one in our lives, for ‘I do not know whether I will get one more chance’.
Lord, may this Season of Lent bring more joy to my heart in doing all that is pleasing to you. Help me not do, say or think anything that will be displeasing to you.