Following the move of the Church to dedicate the year 2011 to the family. the Penang Diocese has chosen the theme for this year’s Lenten Campaign as “Light a Life as a Family”. It is an encouraging move by the church which recognizes the importance of the family in the lives of the people. Yes, the goodness and evils in the world today directly or indirectly have their roots in the family unit. A happy and united family whose members are brought up with sound moral values and discipline will generally give rise to children who will turn out to be good humans later in their lives.
The Lenten Campaign Theme 2011
As we step into the season of Lent, we are repeatedly reminded of fast, abstinence and prayer. In fact these have become the most important hallmarks of Lent and people take great pains to observe them to the fullest, some not knowing the real meaning of these practices. .
To many fasting and abstaining is refraining from foods especially meat. From a very young age I used to wonder how fasting and abstinence from food can make you a better person and after all these years I am still in the dark.
The parish priest in his sermon rightly pointed that fasting and abstinence are not just about refraining from food and drinks. They are about fasting and abstaining from the bad words, intentions and deeds in our lives. It is about getting rid from our hearts the greed, jealousy and hatred for others, friends and foes alike. it is about forgiving those who have hurt us and seeking forgiveness from those we have hurt. It is about getting rid of our immoral activities in our lives.
In addition to these, abstaining from such evils is not enough, we should go another step further to do something good to those in our midst; lending a helping hand to those in need, spending some time with our aged and ailing parents, being more tolerant to those who disagree with us and standing up for justice and truth. Moreover such goodness should prevail throughout the year and not just during Lent, which should be a time to reflect on what we are doing and make resolutions on what to do next.
It is sad that many of us pray, fast and do penance in order to receive something in return from God. Prayer and fasting to obtain what we want, to my mind, does not seem logical and sound as it would tantamount to bribing God. They would be acts of selfishness if we do that for such purposes.
Instead praying and fasting should be means to prepare ourselves mentally and physically to sacrifice something that we treasure for the sake our love for our neighbor, who could even be our enemy. That was what Jesus did, prayed and fasted to sacrifice his life for us, which we are commemorating during Lent. Following Christ is not keeping all our gains to ourselves but to give up some to our neighbor who may be in greater need for them.
We in the Diocese of Penang are called to light a life as a family and be bearers of Christ’s light by shining joy, peace, patience, and kindness on others so that they may know Christ through our actions.How worthy are we to to bear His light? Before we can light a life as a family we must ensure our own attitude towards our own families are Christ-like.The family today has become a challenging place for all of us,so much problems to handle which often go beyond our control.If not are we the cause of the turmoil in our families?What are we doing to restore the peace and harmony in our families?
Are we good children to our parents?
Are we good husbands and wives to our spouses?
Are we good brothers and sisters to our siblings?
Are good as parent-in-laws and children-in-laws?If we are not then this is the time to initiate amends to put our families in order.It may not be easy as I have learnt but we must try. Family is the most import unit of society; unless we are good to the other members of our family we cannot be good to others in the world.Our society and the world in general cannot become a better place if our familiy units are in disarray.