PS 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 12-13, 14 AND 17
2 COR 5:20-6:2
MT 6:1-6, 16-18
So how often do you hear that phrase associated with Lent? Probably not very often. What does the beginning of this period of grace, love and mercy mean for us in this context? Psalm 51 refers to “the joy of our salvation” and this joy begins today. So Happy Lent!
Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means "spring." The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry. Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.
As Paul tells us, we are “ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.” And as we “spring” forth into Lent, this period of joy for our salvation impels us to prepare to accompany Christ on the journey. To do this we must prepare ourselves.
In today’s Gospel from Matthew, Jesus calls us to a joyful preparation. Through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving we find our reward in Christ. God will repay us for this preparation.
I’m joyfully preparing myself for this period of time. Lent for me is a time to reconcile; to reconcile myself to God, to others, and even to myself. Perhaps the best way we can all do this is to reflect on some questions. I invite you to reflect on these questions with me. I invite you to prepare with an open heart, with joyfulness, and with love.
So what is our prayer life like? Can we spend some more time in prayer with Jesus during this period? How do we imagine Jesus? Can we have an intimate conversation with Jesus during this time (or several!) where we talk together just as we see one of our best friends? Can we explore a new method of prayer? For example, I’m planning to spend more time in prayer using the Pray As You Go App: https://www.pray-as-you-go.org/home/. Don’t be intimidated! Load it on your phone!
What are some new ways of fasting for us? Can we fast from using unkind words? Can we reflect with Jesus on some attachments we have and try fasting from them? What about our habits – are there any habits that we have that inhibit our love for ourselves? For example, I’m planning to reflect on how much time I spend worrying about things – and talk to Jesus about those worries, trying to abstain from them.
What can we give? Can we reach out to someone we know who doesn’t have many friends? Can we give the gift of time? Can we intervene when we hear someone making a slur or belittling words toward someone else while we are walking down West Pine? Can we avoid being an apathetic bystander when we hear words of hate? Can we get out of an “us vs. them” mentality? Let Jesus help you to be courageous in the “giving”. For example, I’m planning to write a handwritten letter (yes – even mailed with a stamp!) to someone who has been instrumental in my life.
I share these questions because I really want you to reflect about this period of Lent as a joyful preparation – and to act! Because our faith calls us to this action. Our faith calls us to be an ambassador for Christ in all aspects of our lives. Happy Lent!
Susanne Chawszczewski, Ph.D.
Director of Campus Ministry