February 13, 2013 –– Ash Wednesday
Lent was not part of my early formation. We did not follow a liturgical year; Christmas and Easter were mostly one-day events with no formal preparation.
Occasionally I would hear criticism of Christians who observed Lent. The essence of it was the supposed error of wallowing in guilt when Jesus has already done "everything" for us at the cross.
Since it seems we relate to formulas, let’s compare two:
[Me first] + [convenience & pleasure] = [instant gratification]
This is the formula most of our society embraces –– but the ultimate sum is dismissed or ignored: long-term misery & and death.
The other formula also has a split sum:
[Honor to God & service to others] + [Self-control]
= [temporary inconvenience & and Eternal Life]
"Believing in Jesus" bears fruit; we are what we do.
Which do we want?
If we want Eternal Life, we must face some temporary inconvenience now –– it's the fruit of our faith.
Lent is a time to embrace intentional patterns that force us to face our own weakness and rely more on God. Jesus said: Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Mtt 7:13,14).
What more needs to be said? We need Lent.