Thursday, March 06, 2014

Lent reflections 2014


Catholics all over celebrate Ash Wednesday today, a day when we are reminded that we came from dust and unto dust we will return one day. To symbolise our mortal bodies, we receive ashes on our foreheads. To most of us it may just be a ritual but we should reflect deeply on what it really signifies today in a world driven by money, greed and lust.

Lent is not about just about fasting, abstinence from certain worldly luxuries and attending church and feeling sorry for the unjust and painful death of Jesus on the cross. It is about humility and showing love to those in need, doing some sacrifice for someone in distress and forgiving someone who has hurt us.It is about fasting and prayer to prepare ourselves for facing the many challenges ahead that will test our faith and patience. In short it is about emulating Jesus during his last 40 days preparing himself for his passion and death.

There may not be any hard-core poor around us but there many around us in need and suffering from all sorts of problems and in pain and misery. There are many who are lonely, sick and dying, hungry and homeless, hurt by those they loved, those suppressed and denied their rights.

In our country today as Christians we face the greatest test of our faith - patience and love for our fellow Muslims who seem to be at war with us. The Allah issue, the alleged proselytization of Muslims and the false notion that we want to create a Christian state here in Malaysia are causing great deal of tension in our multi-racial country. All we wanted was our rights to practice our faith freely as provided for in our Federal Constitution but for that we are being accused of being anti-Islam and anti-Malay and trying to incite hatred for the Muslims. These we know are baseless allegations but how do we counter them remains a formidable task.

As we step into this period of Lent let us meditate on the suffering, humility, forgiveness of Jesus as he was unjustly sentenced to death on the cross. Despite the cruel way he was killed, he did not fight back but forgave all those who inflicted so much pain onto him. Let us ask Jesus to give us the same humility to accept theses injustices against us and the courage to forgive those who plot against us to create chaos in the country.

The solution to the present conflict between Christians and Muslims to some extent also lies in our hands. It is about sacrificing a little to allay the fears of our fellow Muslims who are becoming increasingly more suspicious of us. This Lent if we want to do some sacrifice for the sake of peace, it should our claims to Allah. It is not because we are afraid or weak but because we are humble and strong to forgive those who insult us.

 Lent is also about “Repent and return” to the ways of God from the sinful lives we may leading now. God has given us full freedom to do what we want with our lives. We go into the world and do lot of evil. But God is always waiting for us to return to him, repent and return. He has given us all we need to realize our wrongs - a discerning mind, adequate intelligence and guiding lessons, at times painful, in life. If we still ignore His calls and signals to repent, it is too bad. 

God is all forgiving - even the most serious sin he will forgive if we repent. Those of us who are living in sin, Lent is a time to open our eyes to realize the wrongs, repent and return to Him who is waiting to take us back into His arms.  

This  "repent and return" theme may bring a little reassurance to those whose spouse, children or even a close friend may have left them and are involved some sinful activities. Pray and continue to do good and have hope the separated person will repent and return to you one day we must be prepared to accept them back.
If God can wait and accept the return of even the greatest sinner who are we to reject those who have sinned and repents. We too must accept them back with open arms like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Have a meaningful and blessed Lent