“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.” ~ Pope Francis
When we speak about providence, we generally agree that it is about divine intervention in and for our lives. That is precisely how Pope Francis appears to view Lent: as a providential gift from God. I tend to agree with that sentiment. Welcome to the providential gift of Lent.
Gift, you say? Yes, gift. I know that there are some who view Lent as several weeks of obligation and sacrifice. We are called to do some sort of penance throughout the season either by giving up something favorite or by doing extra works of mercy and love. We are called to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and to abstain from meat on the Fridays of Lent. We are challenged to pray more in order to get closer to God. How can that be considered gift?
All these things we do because (1) we are sinful people and (2) we desire God’s mercy. Lent is a gift to us because it forces us to view ourselves honestly and admit that we are, indeed, sinful people. Too often, we deny that and go on our merry, sinful way.
Lent is a providential wake-up call for us. When some people may have given up on themselves, it reminds us that it is not too late to change our ways. God will always take us back and that is supremely good news.
Lent also reminds us that we are not in this alone. We are asked to consider the plight and needs of others. That is why it is suggested that some of our Lenten resolutions include doing works of positive good for others: helping to serve in a soup kitchen, visiting the shut-in, including people in your life that you tend to keep away, or simply giving an honest, cheerful greeting.
This is the Second Sunday of Lent. Yes, it began a week and a half ago on Ash Wednesday. It may have begun at that time but you may not have done so. You don’t have to wait for next year. It’s not to late. Jump in and begin today, begin now. God will truly appreciate your efforts.
What are the rewards of a Lent done well?
- A closer relationship with God
- An increase in holiness
- A renewed and invigorated spirit
- An understanding of our relationship with and need for others
- A desire to be more like God and less like the world
- An understanding of what is truly important for our lives
God bless your endeavors this Lent. May your hard work earn you a deeper joy when you celebrate Easter.
FAITH ACTION: Hold firm to your Lenten resolutions and encourage others in theirs.