This weekend marks the start of Lent, a period of penitential preparation for Easter. What is Lent to you?
In today’s Gospel we hear how “the Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan…” (Mark 1:12-13) During this season, just like Jesus we too are called into the wilderness of our hearts for 40 days – reflecting on our lives and journeying in faith towards Easter.
We observe Lent because Christ himself, though innocent as he was, loved us so much that he died on the cross for our sins, reconciling and restoring our relationship to its original state with God our Father (2nd Reading, 1 Peter 3:18,21).
Lent is a timely period to change our ways, overcome shortcomings in our life and focus on getting back on the right path towards our Heavenly Father. For example, we may have been spending too much time watching Korean dramas that our children, spouse or even household chores are neglected. Others may face temptations of sloth, pride or other earthly indulgences – e.g. snacking in excess on bak kwa, love letters, kueh bangkit during the festive season.
When we sin and fail to walk in God’s ways, it damages our relationship with God.
Just like reconciling our relationship with our spouse, parents and friends, one could also reconcile our relationship with God by making effort to obey his Word – showing love to our enemies, evangelising and sharing the Word of God with others, not turning a blind eye to someone in need or forgiving others who have hurt us.
In the first reading and responsorial psalm, we bear in mind the eternal covenant God established with us, and His eternal goodness and compassion to those who love and are true to him.
Let us identify a few ways we can work on for this year’s “Desert Walk” for a fruitful Lenten observance:
Work on one of two things that you think has distant you from our Heavenly Father or things that you have not been doing enough.
- Why are you perpetuating these doings or non-doing? List down the reasons and be specific about these.
- Map out a step-by-step plan to tackle each of the reasons. Including the actions, steps and time taken. (e.g. Is our free time leading us to spend all our time on Netflix? Perhaps, we can opt to subscribe and watch faith-related videos on YouTube instead).
- Review your progress weekly and modify your plan for it to be more effective in the next week of Lent.
- Have the end goal in mind: at the end of Lent, we should progress in faith and come out of the “desert” as a better Catholic
Most importantly, before you start your Desert Walk, pray to 1) the Holy Spirit for anointing you with wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord (Gifts of the Holy Spirit that we all received at Baptism) 2) Blessed Mother Mary for her intercession, 3) Guardian Angel to light up you path, to guide, to rule and to guard you, 4) Saint Michael, the Archangel to defend you and 4) patron saints to pray for you for your endeavour, as “He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him” (Mark 1:13)
Let us all enter the desert with hope. When we complete our Desert Walk and Lenten journey, may we all bear fruits of the Holy Spirit of charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty self-control, and chastity. Amen!
Victor Chua, Mervyn & Christine Wong, Leon Chng