The period of Lent usually falls during Summer in tropical climates and during Spring in temperate ones. In the Philippines, we celebrate Lent as the scorching sun beats hard on us with temperatures rising from 33 to 37 degrees C.
Why do we celebrate Lent and what does it mean to us? Is it just the time of year when we fast, abstain from meat and do charitable acts?
For Christians, Lent is so much more than little personal sacrifices we can offer. It’s the very essence of our faith as it affirms the passion, death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It symbolizes the victory of Christ over death and over worldly powers and dominions. It means we have a Savior who loved us so much that He died for us, in total obedience to our Almighty Father. Not only that, He is praying for us constantly – guiding, blessing, healing and strengthening us, especially during those dark times when we are just about ready to give up.
We go through our own personal Lenten journeys. Sometimes, we grapple with problems that we could not easily solve, much as we try to. They stress us out and overwhelm us. These may include financial worries, business issues, relationships. For instance, our income may not be enough to meet our rising expenses and suddenly we are being chased by credit card companies; a business partner may suddenly decide to create a rival company, taking our most loyal staff with him/her; our friends whom we thought were sincere and loyal, betray us; our children are going around with the wrong crowd of people with vices. Suddenly, we may feel like we’re spiralling downwards. Our world has turned upside down.
It’s easy to lose hope when storms rock our boats. Through our problems, we turn to prayer, our hotline to divine help. And so we pray, full of faith and sincerity and the solutions to our problems will start to take shape and become crystal-clear. It may not happen right away but in time, we are ready to let go of anger, hatred and bitterness which destroy our soul. With one hand, we let go of our toxic emotions and with the other, we clasp the hand of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We have just experienced our renewal of faith. We are now ready to face life again, more confident knowing that we are not alone: we have our Savior walking with us. Such is the beauty of life; such is the essence of Lent.