“Hey Guys, what are y’all giving up for lent?” Emmmmm…..Emmmmmm as they all disappeared into their rooms, phones and study. They asked for it! Using my Mummy voice, I repeated myself.
C1: I don’t want to talk about it (code for I don’t have an answer yet) C2: Milk (Boy, you need to give up Fortnite) C3: Anime (This child has watched all episode of every anime series, whats left to give up) C4: Candy (LOL! There is a video of him dancing desperately for candy on his brother’s Snap Chat)
I proceeded to give them a talk on the importance and significance of lent. Explaining why we give up luxuries, pleasures and fave foods during lent symbolic to Jesus 40 days in the wilderness leading to Easter. I explained that Jesus gave His life for us and we shouldn’t hesitate to go through a period of discomfort, uniting with Jesus Christ suffering and in reverence to God.
Fast Forward to Ash Wednesday, we woke up at 5am to make it to Mass by 6:30am. Mischievous me loved the discomfort created by waking everyone up really early. Church was packed and surprisingly, the kids waved to their classmates as we settled in our seats. I was glad they saw other neighbourhood children and I was impressed that regardless of our changing times, faith stays important.
The priest started the homily and said, ” You can’t add to God, God is God all by himself and any actions, sacrifices or routines are to purify our hearts, create a dwelling space for the Holy spirit and strive to be more like Jesus Christ. Thats it – Its really all for us. The choices we make during lent are really for our benefit, we are the beneficiaries and no one else. When the angels celebrate, they celebrate our spiritual growth and victory. Going into lent believing that our earthly sacrifices are for God or will earn us His grace is based on a lack of understanding. We can’t add to God and we don’t earn His grace as it is freely given.
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” – John 4:24. If we give up all our luxuries, favorite foods, most exciting TV shows yet hold firmly to unforgiveness, malice, anger, envy and pride amongst other vices – we have missed the point of the season. My friend and one of my sons both had red meat on Ash Wednesday, sharing their unhappiness over their spiritual misdemeanour. I shared with both that I have a feeling that God is less concerned with our stomachs and much more interested in our hearts and souls. Right?
No matter what we give up, we won’t come close to Jesus who gave everything; from the wilderness to the crucification – its impossible!!!! As we enter the Lenten season, let’s lay less emphasis on the physical. Whatever we give up, let’s link it to our spiritual growth. For instance, don’t just give up social media for lent, give up social media to study the bible more, pray more, spend time with loved ones more and so on. For Lent to count, it has to be a sincere spiritual process. Also, remember that it’s not mandatory to give up something during lent, you can also adopt a new exercise that will deepen your relationship with God.
May the Lenten season be a period of spiritual growth for us, drawing us closer to God and Heaven. The Ash on our forehead reminds us that earth is temporary and Heaven is our permanent home, let’s never forget this. Our daily lives should always be an opportunity to prepare for an eternity with God.
P.S. My Parish registered parishioners in Formed.com, a great resource/app.