A Reflection by Fr. Christopher Emokhare, SMA
Lent in most Christian denominations is the forty-day liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where according to the Sacred Scripture; he endured temptation by Satan. Mark 1.12-13, Luke 4.1-13 and Matthew 4.1-11.
The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believers through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial for the commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the Catholic Church the liturgical colour during Lent changes to purple. Purple is used for two reasons. First, because it is associated with mourning and so anticipates the pain and suffering of the crucifixion, and secondly because purple is the colour associated with royalty, and celebrates Christ’s resurrection and sovereignty.
Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities. The forty days period is symbolic of the 40 days spent by Jesus in the desert. The number forty has many other biblical significances: the forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai with God; the forty days and night Elijah spent walking to Mt. Horeb; God made it rain for forty days and forty nights in the days of Noah; the Hebrew people wandered forty years traveling to the Promised Land; Jesus fasted and was tempted by the devil for forty days in the desert.
Our Lenten journey should therefore in my belief go beyond 40 days. Each day should awaken in us our purpose here on earth. As Socrates would say “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Lent is a special way to examine our lives and ask the pertinent questions: How am I living my Christian life? Where am I in relation with my fellow human person?
Lent is also a time to be thankful to God for all the gifts we have received from him. All that we have come from the Lord. We should be ready to share with others what we have received from the Lord.
We should share the most precious gifts we have received; love, compassion, understanding and forgiveness. We must be ready to starve our sins before we starve our stomachs. When this is done in a sincere way. It will surely make our Christian journey more interesting, meaningful and heavenly. We will be walking the talk.
Lent in the Catholic Church starts with Ash Wednesday. The act of putting on ashes symbolizes fragility and mortality, and the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God. Our God is a merciful God, so must we too! Far from being a merely external act, the Church has retained the use of ashes to symbolize that attitude of internal penance to which all the baptized are called during lent.
“Remember, Man, you are dust and to dust you will return.” As we journey through life, we should constantly remember that we shall return back to dust. May this year Lenten season fan into flame our love for one another and so in the spirit of God grow in authentic love. Happy Lenten season.
Fr. Christopher Emokhare, SMA