Lent – A Time to Look Inward
Ash Wednesday is coming up and with it the season of Lent. Lent is that marvelous season of reflection and repentance…just what most people seem to want to avoid. I used to think of Lent as a depressing and demanding season. But, not anymore. Now I see it as a gift and a wonderful opportunity.
So, what is the gift of Lent? First, it is a reminder and a gift of time to look inward. There is an old saying: “How can one reach a destination if they don’t know where they are going?” How do you know what you still have to do to reach any goal unless you assess where you are now, where you need to go next, and how you will get there? That is what taking stock of your spiritual life is all about. In reflection we ask, “Where do I have to make some changes?” Am I praying daily? Do I need to make some changes in my life to make time for daily prayer? Do I give to others in the ways I should? Are there things I should give up so that I can grow in the ways I want? Are there sins I need to address in my life, for which I must repent and make amends? Waiting for God to do all the work and make it happen will do no good. The hard work of repentance is ours to do!
So, what is the opportunity of Lent? It is an opportunity to develop our relationship with God. We all know that sin separates us from God. This is not something God does to us. Rather, the problem is that we hide from God when we sin (Adam and Eve hid at the beginning of it all. Remember?). So, Lent offers us and opportunity to repent, to ask for forgiveness and then to change our heart and mind so that hiding is the last thing we want to do. It is an opportunity to reconcile with God and become closer to Him. In the process we grow in holiness.
Some time ago, Fr. Sarath, a missionary priest who was with us for a short time preached a homily in which he said, “Your relationship with God is the most important thing in your life. It is vital for your salvation. The problem is: you can’t build a relationship at the last moment, and I think a lot of people are counting on doing just that!” I sat up! I think I was one of those people.
Don’t wait! Lent is a gift of time and a reminder to look inward and make the changes we all need in order to be in right relationship with God. It is an opportunity to repent and change our hearts and minds in ways that help us do that. Bless us all in this Lenten season.