Beloved in Christ, at Mass last Wednesday we had our forehead marked with ashes by the Priest to indicate the start of a new liturgical year; the season of lent. Therefore as we gather this morning to celebrate the first sunday of lent, I have chosen ” UNDERSTANDING THE SPIRIT OF LENT” as our theme for today. This theme I hope will help discover ways of benefiting from the grace of this season.
Beloved, the ashes symbolizes two things in the Old Testament, namely, mortality (death) and repentance. Hence, if death is coming we ought to prepare and the way to prepare is to live according to God’s ways. The ashes are thus a public admission of guilt and a promise to reform by pledging to resist temptation in the future.
The Church during this season invites us to pray, fast and to practise charity. The Church also has regulations regarding fasting and abstinence. For abstinence, the Church says everyone 14 years of age or older is bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, all fridays of lent and Good friday. This is a sign of reverance for the blood shared by Christ for the salvation of the world. The law of fasting also says everyone 18 years or older and under 59 years of age is bound to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The eating of one meal a day is allow to maintain strenght while eating in between meals is not permitted. However when health or ability to work would be SERIOUSLY affected the law does not oblige.
Beloved in Christ, it is not fasting as such that is good because people can fast for a variety of reasons, which may have nothing to do with religion. Our fasting is to show that we are masters and not salves to our passion or desire. Thus our fasting is to teach us self discipline. Also what we spare by our fasting should relieve the hunger of a neighbour. There is therefore a link between fasting and charity. This is not the time to you to save so as to buy a cloth for Easter. What you save from food, drinks and sweets should be used to feed the hungry. While the number forty (40) is symbolic for a period of preparation.
Beloved, as we reflect on the temptation of Jesus on this first sunday of lent, let us see temptation as a period of discernment and not as tests to make us fail but rather to make us stronger and better. And this can be achieved by spending time with Jesus in prayer and adoration, going for confession and performing our penance.
Kindly share this homily with your friends to remind them that Lent is a season of grace and that we can only benefit through prayer, fasting and charity.
This has been Fr. Dolphyne’s presentation for the first sunday of Lent.
May God richly bless you.