Click on the link for the full newsletter – 7 February 2016 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lent – ‘a call for change’
One of my friends told me, “Next Wednesday all the priests in the world will blacken the face of the faithful.” All of a sudden I did not understand but then I laughed at the irony of his sound and smile. The significant rite of the beginning of Lent is the signing with the ashes on Ash Wednesday. The sign of the cross is traced upon the forehead with the words, ‘dust you are, and to dust you shall return’. To the outward appearance our faces become disfigured by the ash cross; in the secret place of the soul we know we carry the sign of Christ’s love. Dust and ashes we say in common understanding to signify when something has come to nothing.
This week we begin the Lenten season. Lent is a call for ‘change’ – a change in our personal life, a change in our family life and a change in our societal life. A change in the life of people is all what God wanted from the chosen people. Going through the pages of Sacred Scripture, we don’t see God asking people neither sacrifices and holocausts, nor precious offering but the ‘change’; change in the behaviour, change in their attitudes, change in their relationship to one another.
What would be according to you the most important verse from bible? The answer, according to Fulton J sheen, is Mk.1:15: ‘Change yourself because the kingdom is near’. The Greek word used for ‘change’ is Metonaiah – One may translate it as repentance, conversion, change of heart, and so on. But what is important is the ‘change in oneself’. For Sheen, this message of change is the message of Bible. The change must be supported with change of actions.
St. Paul reminds us, ‘now is the real time of favour, now the day of salvation is here.’ Lent is the privileged time of fasting and penance. Prophet Isaiah says what is real fasting. “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loosen the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?” (Is 58:6)
Fr. John Panamthottam