1st Sun Lent C – Why Lent?
A man with a major drink problem decided to attend an AA meeting. When he entered the room he saw people who looked tired and worn out. Losers, he thought. They were standing around drinking coffee and talking. Some had the shakes and fidgets. The room was filled with broken and needy people. He left the place very quickly and said, “I am not like one of these.” Too bad. If he had stayed, looked deeper and admitted his need, identified with the others in the room and embraced the program, his life would have been changed. When Jesus came into our world he looked around at us all and said, “I am one of these and I’m staying here with them”.
I grew up with the idea that Lent was about giving up things, pleasures small or great, praying and going to Mass more often. When Easter finally came we indulged our long-suffering selves and more or less returned to where we were before Lent began. Those addicted to alcohol enter a 12-step growth process in order not just to stop drinking but to undergo an internal and permanent change in their lives. Lent is a time for personal and permanent inner change and growth. Luke tells us that Jesus “was led by the Spirit through the wilderness, being tempted there by the devil for forty days” –Luke 4: 1-2. Lent invites us to slow down, look beneath the surface of our everyday habits and engage more searchingly with who we are as followers of Christ.
Jesus’ temptations compelled him to look more deeply at himself and his relationship with his Father. His three citations of scripture merit reflection: Man does not live on bread alone (but on every word that comes from the mouth of God). You must worship the Lord (your God), and serve him alone. You must not put the Lord your God to the test. I’ve put in brackets what Matthew added. Jesus didn’t recite these lines from rote like a schoolboy. They were the outcome of personal conviction and Spirit-led encounter with God. Jesus had spent a long time – the proverbial “forty days” – wrestling with who he was and with his God-given destiny.
Lent comes as a yearly invitation to adopt the mind of Christ, Have this mind in you which was in Christ Jesus – Phil 2:5. Lent invites us to take time out to pray and reflect on the person of Jesus Christ. It’s a time to dig into the Gospel version of who he is, why he did what he did and said what he said. The Gospel version is better and more rewarding than, say, the Joe Walsh version. We could ask ourselves why Jesus didn’t assuage his hunger and change the stones into bread. That’s a tough nut to crack and may take a bit of prayer, thought and listening to the scriptures. The question invites us to get into the mind of Christ during this season of Lent. We need to be ready to recognise him in the breaking of bread at Easter.
Fr. QQ – 03/01/2022