Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the first of the 40 day (not counting Sundays) season of Lent for many Christians. Many of us will sometime today go to a special worship service and have ashes smeared on our forehead in the shape of the cross. Lent is a time of preparing for Easter and the Easter Season, when we celebrate specifically the life-giving resurrection of Jesus. Lent is also a penitential season. It is a time when give up some creature comfort, when fasting is less the exception, and when we look to the example of Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan before beginning his ministry.

Is forty days of penance enough? Will giving up Cokes, or TV, or sweets, or meat, or Facebook really somehow absolve me of any sin? Can we work hard enough to fix ourselves somehow to be ready to meet Jesus, resurrected on Easter morning? Can any of us do enough to be pure enough to greet him when he comes triumphant at the end of time?

I wish I could work it out. Many of us wish we could be given a simply list of tasks that would fix us of our sin, our mistakes, our shortcomings. Several of my friends are working very hard to prove they have moved past the sinful-self of the past. But I know I cannot work hard enough to fix it all.

It is not easy to accept that Christ is more than willing to forgive simply because of who he is. God is constantly waiting and watching for us to repent (to turn back to God). It is the only part that really matters. All that God desires is for us to turn back and walk humbly with God. Our sin is not covered in our penance; our sin is covered in the cross of Jesus Christ.

Still, to all of you (and me) who are trying to find the perfect penance, if you find it let me know.

May you have a blessed Lent,

1 comment:

Dee said...

Penance is a difficult thing to comprehend for many of us. I remember wondering as a kid when I had freinds who would give up something for lent (often times coke or candy) & it always made me wonder why something seemingly so simple to give up would absolve something. I realized many years later that grace & mercy are all we ever need to accept for absolution. The ultimate price paid for our sins was already purchased in full. Why do so many of us find it hard to believe we are forgiven; I speak for myself when I think of the old sins I drag out from time to time. I know God wonders why I cannot give it up & let those go. 40 days for Penance, try 40 yrs...The learning curve is a long one for so many of us.