Many connect the Season of Lent with fasting.
This year, we continue to fast from many things that have been familiar to us: handshakes, hugs with friends, social gatherings, singing together, concerts and making music together, seeing the microexpressions as we speak with one another.
Indeed, we ask this Lenten Season, do we need to give up even more?
The Season of Lent is not meant to deprive us of anything. It is not that we need to beat our bodies into submission or that our human desires need to be put aside for 40 days.
It is for us to come to terms with our humanity, our mortality, and our finitude. It is only when we accept that we are limited beings, then will we accept also the great possibility that we can sin and fall short of the grace of God.
It is when we realize that we are not divine that we would allow space for God the Creator to take back that role -- the Redeemer who will save us from our sins and ourselves.
This year, 2021, I invite all of us to take a 40-day journey, one that involves reflection, contemplation, and repentance.
Remember that string or thread I asked you to prepare?
This will be your prayer string around your wrist for the Lenten Season. Last year, some of you did it and we invite all to participate again this year. It is not going to be ignored on your wrist and you don’t take it off for anything. It is there to rub up against your wrist and each time it does that, it reminds you to pray.
Pray for the world, pray for the person you see in front of you, pray for the name of the person who pops up in your mind, pray for the last person you had an argument with, pray for the ones you have forgotten and remain unnamed.
What about that jar?
You will have 40 days to fill it. You may ask what shall I fill this jar with?
Here are some ideas:
fill it with coins you may come across around the house and then donate it to a cause close to your heart. Or maybe give up a meal and instead to put the money into the jar -- if medically allowed.
fill it with slips of paper where you write down your worries and give it over to God; not only that, whatever you may wish to give over to God, fill that jar.
fill it with things you want God to help you change, be it circumstances, behaviours, attitudes, biases -- things that will lead to transformation
fill it with thanksgiving -- things that you are thankful for, people you are thankful for
fill it first with names of people -- then each day to draw a name out for a random act of kindness
fill it with knowledge - learn something each day and put a note of it into the jar
This small commitment, whichever it may be, at the end of 40 days, there will be a habit-forming to carve out time each day to focus on our faithful living.
After 40 days we would have given up perhaps more of our self-focused living to be transformed with a more Godly-focused one.