This Wednesday we begin our journey to Easter with the sign of ashes, an ancient sign, speaking of the frailty and uncertainty of human life, and marking the penitence of the community as a whole.
More often than not, the atmosphere in Lent is somberness. Joy and Lent just do not seem to go together even as Hallelujahs are silenced within the service of the liturgy. Our attention is focused… exclusively on the crucified body of a young man dying in agony on a criminal’s cross. Our emotions are moved to tears by such words as suffering, sacrifice, passion, and death. All of this emphasis on the cross is intended to drive us to repentance and to acts of fasting.
But Lent is not an unhappy season for us. We are invited to observe the Holy Lent by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting and alms giving, and by reading and meditating on the Word of God. These are serious matters but they are also happy occasions.
It is a happy occasion when one undergoes self- examination.
– It is a happy occasion when one prays.
– It is a happy occasion when one meditates and reads the scripture
– It is a happy occasion when one fast and give alms.
Yes there is joy in Lent as we seriously take this time to confront ourselves and lay it all on the table and see who we are and what we are in terms of our relationship with God and with our neighbors.
While the ashes remind us of our mortality we are also reminded of the greatness of God. We are reminded that he hates nothing that he has made and forgives the sins of the penitent. And so we remember how he showed his love to us by giving up his Son. It is because of this love that we face Lent with joy in our hearts. The kind of joy that opens up our callous hearts and prepare us to really appreciate that morning – like no other morning – when a tomb stood empty in a garden and our Lord was released to conquer all powers and to exercise all authorities as he dwells our world and us, forever!
And so, with a deep sense of peace and hope in God; with joy in our hearts, let the solemn journey begins. God be with you all.