Fr.K.S.Gnana Jyoti, Tiruvannamalai, India
Lent is a time of preparation. During this season, the Church asks us to ready ourselves for the celebration of the central event of human history, the point around which everything else turns: the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The word, “lent “comes from “Lenton”, the Old English word for spring. As spring anticipates summer, so does the season of Lent look forward to the Easter season. The two are intimately related. Lent makes no sense without Easter. If Jesus never rose from the dead, there would be no reason to prepare ourselves for the season of the Empty Tomb.
The Spirit of God drives Jesus out into the desert for forty days and forty nights. According to Mark’s Gospel, this happened immediately after Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan, when the Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove and a voice came from the heavens saying: “You are my beloved Son. On you my favour rests.” This same Spirit drove Jesus into the desert among the wild beasts for forty days and forty nights to be tempted by Satan and ministered to by Angels. His time in the desert was meant to ready him for his public ministry.
The number forty is significant in the Scripture. During the time of Noah and the flood, it rained for forty days and forty nights. Moses spent forty days and forty nights at Mount Sinai receiving the Law. The Jews wandered in the desert for forty years. Elijah walked for forty days and forty nights to reach Mount Horeb. Jesus’ spending forty days and forty nights in the desert tells us that his message flows from and is in continuity with the great events of salvation history. It tells that Jesus stands in the great line of Moses, Elijah and all the prophets, culminating on the ministry of the Baptizer himself.
Jesus’ message is simple and straightforward; “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” It was in the desert that this message crystallized in his mind. Only after he overcame every sort of temptation thrown at him by Satan, was he able to see with clarity the message His Father in heaven was asking Him to preach. The Kingdom of God was at hand, because Jesus, the beloved Son of God, was in their midst.
Jesus said “no” to temptation but was able to say “yes” in Gethsemane because He desired to do His Father’s Will.
Lent shows us that when we desire God’s Will we will always make the right choices. It is this desire to do God’s Will that will change us forever. It’s the magic of Lent. If we must give up something, let’s give up who we have been for who we can become.
A few years ago, an Italian newspaper carried a story about a young couple in Milan who seemed particularly devoted in their worship. The couple spent an hour or more on a regular basis sitting before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The priest who noticed them assumed they were praying very devotedly. But it turned out, that this young couple was recharging their cell phone. They had noticed an electrical socket behind the statue of the Virgin Mary. Whenever their phone’s power supply dwindled, the young people came to the church and re-charged it from the cable behind the statue.
How are we going to re-charge our spiritual life during this Lent? Let’s be sincere. We will be happy during Easter.