Dean of Identity | Mr Charles Brauer
Our Lenten journey begins
Yesterday we commenced our Lenten journey. Lent is a season of being invited by God in a deeply personal way. “Come back to me, with all of your heart,” Jesus invites. “We will,” we respond, but we aren’t quite ready yet, our hearts are not always in it. We avoid Jesus, make up excuses and take the easy road. We are not ready for God to love us.
Our tradition invites us to do three things during Lent. Yesterday, we heard from St Matthew in the Gospel reading, Jesus told us about these three things. The first thing is called alms giving. It simply means that during Lent, in a special way we are called to give all we can to people in need. That can be by helping or by sharing or by giving generously without the thought of receiving anything in return. St Matthew uses a great saying in yesterday’s Gospel where Jesus reminds us not to ‘blow our own trumpet’ about what we give but to do it humbly and quietly. Our Lenten appeals where we celebrate our relationships with our House Friendship Groups and our partnership with the Christian Brothers' community in East Timor are great opportunities to give alms this Lent.
The second thing we are invited to do in a special way during Lent is to pray. St Matthew reminds us that prayer is not ‘for show’ but is a genuine time for reflection, for quiet and for connection with self, family, community and your spirituality.
The third opportunity to join the Lenten journey is to fast. Fasting means to go without and to let go of things that we do not need in our lives. It means to cleanse and to simplify. The trick is that like Jesus’ time in the desert, it has got to hurt a little, it has got to be a sacrifice that puts you out of your comfort zone. Jesus reminded us in yesterday’s reading that even if it is hurting or you are uncomfortable, don’t look sad or complain to your friends and family. Be positive and committed to the experience.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. On Ash Wednesday, we prepare ourselves for the 40 days of Lent by reflecting on our own struggles, mistakes and times we have not been our best selves. Yesterday, we were called to say 'sorry' and to begin a new journey. We were marked with the sign of Jesus, the cross on our forehead, and we were called to turn away from sin and all that tempts us and to follow the Gospel and the servant leadership of Jesus who came so that we could have life and have it to the full.
We now enter a spiritual time, letting go of the trappings and excess that we are accustomed to and the activities, sometimes seemingly good ones that consume us, so as to focus on God again. However, since we come from God, God is there with us, gently guiding us, as he did Jesus, through the most treacherous of wilderness experiences. In these next six weeks we will journey with Jesus. We will be tempted together, pray together, reveal our most inner thoughts and feelings to him, and finally share in his suffering and death on a cross; we will continue our journey knowing that in six weeks’ time, we will experience the joy of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.