First Sunday in Lent
By Leanna Cappiello
Why do we fast, pray and give during Lent? It is not so much about what we are fasting from, but why we are fasting in the first place.
1. To imitate Jesus.
We look to Jesus for radical living. Stories told of him are anything but lukewarm accounts of a man “just trying to live a normal life”; they are striking stories of his daring pursuit for justice, humility, mercy and truthfulness. During this season of Lent, we aim to imitate Jesus’ trial and temperance in his days in the desert. Practically speaking, He withheld from temptation in the flesh and grew closer to the Father in spirit. This is a very human side of Jesus. We do the same in remembrance of His sacrifice.
2. To journey together as a community.
Lent is a preparation period before the triumphant celebration of Easter. But in order to bear new life, there must first be a death. Thus is the nature of creation! It is easy to slip into Lent a lonely, troublesome time (especially now that we are in the icy grasp of winter), but this is why we come to Mass evermore joyfully: to be together, knowing everyone else is observing in solidarity. “Peace be with you” becomes so much more rich during Lent.
3. To respond to a gift.
The second reading in 1 Peter states, “He was put to death in the flesh but alive in the Spirit.” The gift of closeness, holiness, affection with God is a gift that God wants us to have! Make no mistake – He does not need our sacrifice, we need it for ourselves. Lent is a time for us to deny ourselves an earthly luxury so that the spiritual needs may arise in its place. These forty days and forty nights are for us to see the benefits of prayer, fasting and almsgiving in razor-sharp focus.
So why do we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and welcome the stranger?
As Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta put it, “You did it for me.”