Lent is late this year – perhaps in sympathy with Spring which has not arrived yet! Lent is traditionally a time
of “giving up” of self-denial, and that is true, even though it may not be news that many people in our society want to hear in the present economic climate
and its effects on so many people’s lives. But the readings for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, paint
a broader picture:
Lent is a time for turning back to God as we hear in the first reading:
“Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks –Come back to me with all your heart,
Fasting, weeping, mourning.
Let your hearts be broken not your garments torn, turn to the Lord God again –
for he is all tenderness and compassion,
slow to anger, rich in graciousness,
and ready to relent.”
St. Matthew’s Gospel spells out what this turning back to God means in practice through the “good deeds” of prayer, fasting and alms-giving, all done in secret.
“Do not parade your good deeds…”
Matthew 6:1-6. 16-18.
So, we are invited to change our hearts throughout the forty days of the Lenten season, when we are also invited to accompany Jesus through the forty days he spent in the desert, praying, fasting and resisting temptation. (Matthew 4:1-11.)
You may like to reflect on these texts and pray for the particular conversion of heart that you feel invited to.