Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The true spirit of Lent

Never in my life have I really understood the true spirit of Lent. This morning I was led through the following thoughts by Jesus.

Shifting Focus from self to Jesus

On all previous lent, my focus was on what I did, what I sacrificed. This lent, may my focus be on Christ alone. What I do and what I give up would be the fruit of my being in YOU.

Lent is a privilege and a special season of grace Jesus is giving me to identify with Him, the God who left the riches to become like me, the God, who walked the path of complete self denial, for my sake, until the peak of Calvary, the God who was obedient unto death on the cross, the God who went beyond forgiveness and cared to understand why his executioners did what they did, and interceded on their behalf to father saying “forgive them for they know not what they do”.

As I deprive myself of the privilege of eating and drinking at my will and as my body signals to me of it's thirst, hunger, I would attend to it with love and understand its plea. But since the season offers me the grace to focus on the “real treasure” I would rather have the richness of Christ fill every hunger and thirst in me. If I’m allowed a morsel of grain or cup of water, I would rejoice and be thankful to Jesus for the privilege.

Lord I truly want to rejoice in the poverty, the season allows to me. My countenance will show no dearth but abundance for I have you, my Jesus.

When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face. Mathew 6:17

Shifting Focus from self to others

The privileges I have been allowed, all these days of my life, this lent, may I desire it for others to have. The meager, I get to eat or drink may be considered precious, yet desire to do away with it for Your sake as you did when the bitter vinegar was raised to your lips. You responded to your body's urging need for water and cried out “I thirst”. Yet You thirsted, not for water but to fulfill your mission to save me. May my thirst be for the well being of others. May my eyes recognize You, as you lay in wait on pathways for handout or a mouthful.

Whenever you did it for one of these, you did it for me. Matthew 25:31

Embrace Christ in His poverty.

Jesus (God) gave up His glorious privileges to become poor that I might identify myself in Him. In order to identify with the poor and marginalized around me, I must embrace Christ in His poverty.
Philippians 2:6-8 says thus: Jesus, who, being in very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

May I consume less in this season of lent. May the meager satisfy my hunger. My hunger not only for food, but for affirmation, acceptance, to be in control and to achieve. May all my hunger be for You and may my achievement be the little step I take to be closer to You.

Focusing the treasure within

2 Corinthians 4: 7 says: But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us

The treasure (my inner-man being perfected in Christ) is given to me, to be preserved within a brittle jar of clay (our body with all it's carnal desires). This is to remind me about about my fallibility and the all surpassing power of God available to me, to preserve "my treasure" against all odds. In Jesus alone will I treasure my treasures.

Inclination toward sin is akin to our nature. The struggle to stay afoot despite the fallen human nature is ours too. St. Paul talks about this inward struggle in Romans 7: sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do. 

In 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 St. Paul says: In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness

I become aware of my weaknesses in the light of Christ and yet stay focused on Him. He uses my own weaknesses to perfect my “inner-man” into His nature. His delightful countenance, shining aglow, takes precedence over the cheap pleasures I seek.

Jesus asked me once pointing to the flooding drainage on the road which had me almost vomiting, “would you drink this even if I put sugar in it and offer it to you. No matter how Sin is presented to me, it remains a foul, dirty smelling, abhorrent

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. Proverbs 26:11

Our perseverance is a walk against the current. And when we are tired, we hold on to the Rock. Oh! Solid Rock, lead me on.