We are once again in the season of Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday today. The imposition of ashes may be just a ritual for many but it signifies that we all mortal and the end will come one day. It is the arrogance of invincibility that continues to rule those in power, suppressing and abusing others below them. If only we remember that the end will come one day, we may be better people.
This year Lent is of special significance as we also mark the Year of Mercy, which was launched by Pope Francis last year. The year of mercy reminds us that mercy is not only shown by God. It should also be shown by us.
Pope Francis in his message has called on Catholics around the world to use the ongoing Jubilee year of mercy to “open wide” the doors of their hearts to forgive others and to work against social exclusion, even of those that may have caused them bother or upset.
With this background of the Pope’s message the theme for this lent should rightly be “Forgiveness and repentance”. The word forgiveness refers to the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness today is often seen as a sign of weakness not strength.
Over the years as we journey through life, many people hurt us in various ways as we too hurt others knowingly or otherwise. Those who hurt us can be anyone even from within our own family. Even our own spouse and children may hurt us. Very often we tend to respond with anger and revenge, which are normal human reactions to such hurt.
However Jesus through his passion, which we observe during lent, tell us to react in ways which we don’t comprehend or accept in the world today – to forgive those who hurt you. The words of Jesus that strike me most were those that he uttered as he hung dying on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”(Luke 23:34).
This Lent it may be a time for us to reflect on these words of Jesus to understand what he was trying to tell us as he walked through those 40 days of fasting, praying and the finally dying unjustly in the hands of those in power. They killed him is the most cruel and inhumane manner by crucifying him on the cross but yet Jesus was willing to forgive them. His magnanimity for forgive resulted in the repentance of those who hurt him so unjustly.
God will definitely forgive us of all the evils we have harbour in our hearts if only we are willing to repent and return to Him. Let this Lent be the turning point in our lives. Let us repent for our sins and for the hurt we have caused others by our selfishness, greed and arrogance and return to the path of righteousness.
“To hurt someone is bad but to continue doing so without realising is evil”