It is a period for all Christians to engage in body mortification to strengthen the spirit as part of measures to fortify the will in the drive to attain salvation.
Lent is an opportunity for the faithful to remind themselves of the value of repentance through self denial and focusing on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
To be worthy of the costly sacrifice made by Christ on the cross, Christians are expected at this period of lent to, among other things, pray, fast and assist the needy.
Prayer makes man open to God and the divine presence in his daily life.
Fasting, on the other hand, clears the mind and reveals to man how self-seeking creates barrier between him and Christ while almsgiving makes man generous to others as brothers and sisters in the family of God.
While it is good to pray for miracles, breakthroughs and success in our life’s ambitious, it is better especially at this Lenten season to pray for the salvation of our souls to gain eternal life as God already know our earthy needs and is ever ready to provide for us.
Christians are also expected to love and pray for both friends and foes, as Christ did, especially while on the cross and mandated Christians to uphold when he instructed that you should love your neighbor as you love yourself. Regrettably enmity, hatred and mistrust have eroded love and understanding in many Christian families, communities and even some churches.
Similarly, fasting should be aimed to achieve spiritual growth to get closer to Christ, not to please the church, family or friends as such objectives could only gain earthy rewards.
Therefore, Lent should not be a period of boasting of one’s sacrifice nor seeking God’s favour and love for selfish reasons.
Abstinence enables Christians to curtail excesses and drop bad habits that would help them maintain healthy and sound moral lifestyle after the Lenten period.
Regrettably, many still run back to the same old habit from Easter Day.
As the Lenten period calls for sober reflection, it is good opportunity for families to identify and expunge those areas of their lives that keep them away from God.
Christians who encourage youths to go half naked in the name of fashion or encourage them to go into cultism, examination malpractice, prostitution, armed robbery, violence and other anti-social activities are making a mockery of Christ’s supreme sacrifice to mankind.
There should be regular spiritual exercise aimed at understanding the work of mercy as practiced by Christ which will include helping the poor, expressing solidarity with those oppressed, caring for the sick, being the voice of the voiceless, struggling for justice for those deprived, giving widows a helping hand and showing love to little children.
Without the grace of love for the poor and the needy, we will isolate ourselves from one of the major demands of lent and precepts of Christian religion because in the words of late Mother Theresa of Calcutta, “the greatest evil is the lack of love and charity towards one’s neighbor who lives at the roadside, assaulted by exploitation, corruption, poverty and disease”.
Our help to the less privileged at this Lenten period should be with transparent honesty, not as a ploy to gain publicity or inroad to boost social status, as disciple Paul warned the Philippines; “Do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism but with lowliness of mind.”
The war against economic hardship, poverty, greed, corruption and injustice cannot be won if we continue to fight exclusively on the shifting sands of mere human conventions. The time is due for us now to chart a new course to salvation and prosperity by total submission to the supreme will of God and embrace strong faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus was made man to ensure the salvation of man. Man should make himself worthy of that selfless sacrifice.