Sunday, February 14, 2016

The joy of Lent

The words we generally associate with Lent are the unpleasant ones like, desert, heat, dryness, wilderness, fear, beasts, hunger, thirst, loneliness etc. We may think, for Jesus, the forty days he spent in the wilderness was an unpleasant experience. But on the contrary, it may well be the best forty days in his life, spent in deep relationship with the father.

Jesus' victory over the crafty schemes of the devil at the end of his fast, is the proof of the immense strength one receives in prayer (dwelling in the presence of God).

Lent begins with a very powerful scripture passage where Jesus, soon after his baptism is lead by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. Jesus, with extreme clarity, conviction and determination destroys every one of the temptations and commands the devil to get away and at once he does. The devil presents before Jesus, practical sounding, too good to be true worldly promises, suggestions and challenges, while attempting to tempt him. Complying to devils suggestions will make Jesus a celebrity overnight because the world in sin is under devils spell. Yet without a moment of delay or doubt Jesus declares to the devil that his offers are cheap and that he has found something incomparably better in the Fathers house, namely divine life, everlasting joy, peace that surpasses all understanding etc.

Jesus who was fresh out of baptism, full of the Holy Spirit was led into the desert for a deep and intimate union with the Father - away from all earthly attractions and bodily urges. It is this deep connection with the Father that prepares Him to face the devil. The confrontation with the devil is permitted by the Father because the Father knows that the one who is in Him is granted the wisdom, knowledge and the power to refuse and reject any suggestions that is contrary to the gift of divine life that God gives.

We observe abstinence during Lent. And we tend to think abstinence is the essence of lent. Choosing to abstain from food, activities or people that we are attached to is only a preparation for what is most important, and that is 'growing in fellowship with the father' - in other words prayer. Prayer as we know is a relationship with the father. In such a relational prayer, God gives us the necessary grace to obey His commandments, follow His will and reject the crafty schemes of the devil.

Lent is like spending summer holidays in the Father's house. Everything about it is exciting, challenging and fun. It is time for passionate conversations, discussions, new knowledge and understanding, experiences, corrections and most of all it is a season to experience the richness of the love of the Father. We certainly feel secure there. We feel wanted and loved there. We feel excited about life growing up. We immediately recognise our fathers' house to be 'our house' and that we totally belong there. May this lenten experience linger all through our life that the victory over the world and satan is ours not though our own strength but though the merit of Jesus the saviour.