First Sunday of Lent – 1st March
Our Lenten discipline is not so much an obligation but rather a time of formation when our hearts can be more open to Jesus in the concrete events of our daily lives. Our prayer is not called to become a recitation of words but rather a movement of the heart which seeks to live out a relationship which can sustain and transform us. This transformation is not solely for our own good and merit but rather to engage us in the daily mission of being present to Christ in others. This opening up of our lives allows us to see with the eyes of God which acknowledges that each person is made in the image and likeness of God called to be a steward of creation.
As good shepherds it is important to recognise that the world does not revolve around us. Thus, our fasting from food or behaviour is not just a self-improvement exercise, even though there are elements of this in any penitential action. Rather it is about an opening up to those areas of our lives when God’s light is called to shine more clearly. It is where we need to move from a life which focusses solely on what I want towards a life which is responsive to God in surrendering that which draws us into a deeper relationship with the whole of creation. It recognises that each action has consequences which either seek to centre the world upon ourselves or on sharing the good that we have received with others.
This is where the third discipline comes in. It is about establishing relationships which focus less on a person’s poverty than on our common humanity. It is about enabling the other person to develop the essential elements of their lives which can bring hope and love to their community. The charitable giving is about sustaining a relationship which is not just transactional or feels good but rather transformational. The giving is not just one way but rather calls us to receive the life of another as important as our own.
Fr. John Armstrong