We are all sinners, and we continue to sin even after Reconciliation.

Many of us, including myself, always get a wake-up call when the season of Lent is approaching. We tell ourselves we will abstain from sin, we will fast, we will become better children of God. But why do we wait to want to do this only during Lent?

During the rest of the year, we tend to lose ourselves in ‘life’. In a kind of mediocre life which God did not intend for us to live. We stress ourselves out over so many things: grades, human approvals, performance appraisals and bonuses… In the midst of it all, we forget to be good Catholics. We also forget that we are made for more.

When Lent approaches, we are finally reminded about how far we are away from God’s path that we begin panic and promise to realign to God’s ways. We promise to abstain, we promise to fast, we promise to be better Christians. But these, for some, are too difficult to sustain as the season of Lent is a long one. Without Grace, we surely cannot attain any of these.

For many, they feel that they can they can get away for the most part and just return to the right relationship with God during Lent, as if they can get away with last minute preparations just as they did when they were students preparing for major examinations. Sometimes they can still get good grades despite mugging only at the last minute, and they treat Lent as that Catholic examination for the year.

At almost every stage of our lives, we get graded. We get graded in schools, we get graded for our performances at work. Perhaps the reason why we pay so much attention to these matters is because we get to see our grades too clearly, and we forget that they are immaterial in the larger picture.

Our relationship with God doesn’t come in the form of grades, so how do we know we are doing well?

I feel that we all know deep down if we are the best version of ourselves that God wants us to be. As long as we stop living in denial, and admit to our shortcomings, we are on the way to righting our relationship with our Lord.

Unlike school examinations, we cannot afford to only begin to return to a close relationship with God once a year during Lent. The longer we take, the harder the journey will be. As with all relationships, we need time and effort to grow in faith and to become closer to our Creator. If we had spent time and effort studying to get better grades, if we had spent time and effort producing the best quality work to get better appraisal grades, if had we spent time and effort for our loved ones, than more than any of these, we need to place even more time and effort to grow our bond with Christ.

By Alvin Lewis Tham

How do we do this as Lent approaches? Here are three steps that can help you start:

1.Let us reflect and be truthful to ourselves and ask ourselves: what our sins are, where we have let God down. Acknowledging and Recognising that we have sinned is a first step.

2.Let us pray daily to ask for wisdom and for the discipline and guidance to follow through to overcome our sins and become better Christians.

3.The abstinence you partake in should be something that will remind you of why you are doing this on a daily basis. God provides His people strength and will see us through.  

Let’s pray as a community for one another, that we will all be working towards returning to a right relationship with God during this upcoming season of Lent.