08 The GIFT of LENT - Eddy D’Sa

posted Feb 16, 2018, 12:51 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 16, 2018, 12:52 AM ]
When the Church decided to do some deferred maintenance, Raphael the painter got the job. As always, he thinned his paint way down with turpentine. One day, while he was up on the scaffolding —the job almost finished—he heard a horrendous clap of thunder, and the sky opened. The downpour washed the thinned paint off the church walls, and knocked Raphael off his scaffold to the ground. Raphael realised that this was a warning from the Almighty, so he got on his knees and cried: "O God! Forgive me! What should I do?" And from the sky, a mighty voice thundered: "Repaint! And thin no more!"

Another season of Lent has started. Another opportunity for deepening our lives is being given to us. Let us hope that all of us will be able to receive the gift that God is offering to us during these special days. Well, what is that gift? What gift does God have for me, for you? More life,a deeper life, a fuller life. That's a very powerful and wonderful gift, isn't it? God wants us to live with the deepest, fullest life possible. That's really what this season of Lent is all about. We get this gift by being open to receiving it, by wanting it with all our hearts, by asking for it over and over again, by waiting in the presence of the loving Giver. In the prayer for the Eucharist, we hear these words: "Father, through our observance of Lent, help us to understand the meaning of your Son's death and resurrection, and teach us to reflect it in our lives."

We should be very clear about one thing. Lent is not a second chance to see if we can keep our New Year's resolutions. Lent is not really about giving up this or that, no matter how hard this or that may be. There may be a place for some kind of self-sacrifice, but only if that self-sacrifice is done with an eye on receiving the gift of deeper life from God. Giving up desserts or your favourite television show is not at the heart of this season. But if giving up something helps you to become more receptive to receiving the gift of deeper life from God, then, by all means, give it up. If television is mainly just a distraction, keeping you from spending time with others whom you love or who need your care, then give it up.

Many of us need to do one very important thing in order to ready ourselves to receive God's gift; we need to empty ourselves. We need to let go of whatever is threatening to take over our lives. That is going to be very difficult for each of us. Many of us have allowed ungoverned, uncontrolled and constant activity to effectively push out any empty space in our lives. Some of us are still trying to consciously fill ourselves up with too many things, too much food and drink, too much entertainment, too much work, too much shopping, and so on. You can complete your own personal list. God does want us to pay attention to our desires, but not just to our superficial desires. God wants us to pay attention to our very deepest desires—for love, for compassion, forgiveness, mystery, peace, silence. In other words, God wants to give us all the gifts we really need in order to live the loving and God-filled lives all of us really want to live.