But this special time consists of what then?
The word Lent comes from the Latin « quadragesismus = 40 » and lasts for 40 days without counting the Sundays. It refers to the 40 years that the people of Israel spent in the desert, between their leaving Egypt and entering the promised land: “Jesus was then led into the desert.”
It is an invitation to enter into the logic of love that is proper to God. Pope Francis* talks of « God’s style », « God’s logic ». Though he was rich, he became poor. « When Jesus stepped into the waters of the Jordan and was baptized by John the Baptist, he did so not because he was in need of repentance, or conversion; he did it to be among people who need forgiveness, to be with us” * ……. By this divine poverty, Jesus frees us and invites us to follow him on the road.
So we are called to a transfigured asceticism. The word frightens us. But if we associate it with the freedom and joy of love, then it becomes transformed. The word asceticism comes from the Greek verb ‘to exercise’, in the sense of sports training. Exercising in order to get rid of what is unimportant in the heart and the body … asceticism of thought, asceticism of speech, asceticism of food, in order to welcome the Other who is first of all God, and through God, our brothers and sisters, with a privileged love for the neglected.
We all feel internally the temptation to be “eaten up” by the unimportant. That is why one of the first exercises in asceticism is to discern, through an interior impulsion of a spiritual nature and a zeal for the Reign of God what no longer motivates us. And the act of sharing what we choose to live in community is the symbol that our hearts are open to the distress around us. “Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.” * Don’t forget that greed today is more than just a question of individual morality. In truth, we live in a society of greed where so many consumer goods excite our appetites and awaken new needs, which then engenders a growing inequality between the haves and the have-nots!
He became poor, so that by His Poverty we might become rich. “Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty.”*
Sr. Henriette Danet, D.J.
*Lenten message of our Holy Father Francis 2014, “He became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” 2 Cor 8,9