Dear sisters and brothers,
We are into the second week of Lent. “Lent” is an ancient English word that means “Spring” — as in the season — but finds its root meaning in “stretching” or “to lengthen”. Perhaps the original meaning is that Spring is the time of the year when the light of the Sun begins to lengthen and stretch further across the sky after the darkness of winter. It doesn’t really make much sense here south of the Equator, because for us, Lent is always the season of autumn when the Sun’s light begins to diminish.
Nevertheless, this sense of “lengthening” or “stretching” can help us understand the meaning of Lent. It is meant to be a time in which we are “stretched”. Sometimes we can think of Lent as a personal struggle of our will power. Certainly, it is a time in which we examine our priorities and consider the things which take-up our energies. Are these things leading us towards God or away from God? Lent is our yearly spiritual stock-take.
An early Christian preacher, St. John Chrysostom once said: “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” Everything that we do during Lent, and indeed, everything that we deny ourselves during Lent, is meant to stretch us and lengthen us. Lent is meant to be the season in which the light of our heart grows. In his annual Lenten message, Pope Francis wrote, “Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.” Describing this as the globalization of indifference, Pope Francis said that, “whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.” Perhaps this Lent we can fast from indifference.
|Jun 24, 2016
|2nd Sunday of Lent 21.02.2016