“GETTING OUR PRIORITIES RIGHT”
Jesus said to them, ‘Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
So often we speak of giving up something for Lent. And then as a second possibility, as I myself have done in more recent times, we take up something new and positive for the Season. Both approaches are commendable and beneficial.
The danger, however, is that our observance of Lent can easily become a series of mechanical acts, devoid of deeper meaning and purpose and intention. In other words, we go simply for the do’s and don’ts; for what to take on and what to give up.
We therefore have to go beyond these mere external practices. We have to search for something more profound; more challenging; more permanent.
I have found great significance in noting that the Season of Lent not only follows the Season of the Epiphany, but that the two seasons are closely related.
Epiphany, as we may recall, is the season that invites us to know Jesus and to make him known. It is the season that focuses on the manifestation of Jesus as he was revealed to the world. We journeyed together through the Epiphany Season, and in the process would have gotten to know Jesus afresh, anew. We take this new-found knowledge with us as we now prepare to observe Lent. During Lent we will have to come to terms with the impact this knowledge has had on us.
Let us also not forget that the observance of the forty days of Lent found its origin in Jesus’ own sojourn in the wilderness following his baptism by John in the River Jordan. Jesus, having publicly made his commitment to the mission for which God sent him; having come to terms with what this really meant, felt it necessary to go apart, to retreat and prepare for this new thing that was about to happen to him.
So it becomes important that we get our priorities in life right. Following Jesus’ lead, this entails putting God first in all things. It means having an approach to life that consciously and regularly makes our relationship with God the guiding force in all that we undertake for ourselves and for others.
Lent is the perfect season, given as a gift to us by the Church, in which we can begin the process of making things right in our lives – with God and with each other.
This Lenten Season search diligently for the answers to these and similar questions:
- How central is God in my life?
- Where am I spiritually?
- On what or who do I spend most of my time and energy?
- How well am I physically? Do I give my health the priority it deserves?
- What can I do during this Lenten Season that will set me on the pathway to a happier, more fulfilling and purposeful life?
Most congregations will provide the faithful with several opportunities to reflect on questions like these publicly, enabling us to journey together through this Season. Yet, there is the personal and individual journey that must also take place, perhaps in the privacy of your home.
As Jesus himself reminds us: There is a time to live out our faith in private, because, as he says, “your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Have a most blessed and holy Lenten Season.