Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent 2013: Embracing Christ in Our Lives

"The journey may be quite long, but in the process, we reflect on our Christian living, renew our religious vow, and enjoy a happy beginning of a renewed self  by embracing Christ in our lives forever."

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season among Christians and its denominations worldwide. This is a significant annual liturgical event to commemorate the journey of sacrifice and penitence of Christ for 40 days, where he endured suffering and temptations toward his destination.

The ash is made of burnt palm leaves from last year's Palm Sunday. It is usually mixed with holy water and put on the forehead of the faithful, marking a sign of the cross as soon as it has been blessed after the homily, and it will remain until it wears off.

The ash is not an ordinary symbol of the Christian faith. It is a reminder that we came from ash, and from there shall we return by what is written in the book of Genesis. It also reminds us of a spiritual conversion to reunite with Christ and have Him as our life's center.

The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene

The celebration of Ash Wednesday is significant to everyone, regardless of religious affiliation and faith. It sends us the message of repentance from our faults, penitence by sacrificing something for God's glory and fasting as a means of self-sacrifice. It may sound doable, but it would take courage and a deeper understanding of the essence of this religious rite.

Like Christ, followers may have made a relevant sacrifice in our time. To fast would mean to give up food by not overeating, resulting in gluttony which is considered a sin in the Christian law. The budget for food on this day may go to someone who needs it the most. I remember in college the teachings of our Professor in Religious education about the corporal works of mercy, which include feeding the hungry. It is not just a one-day practice; any day is the best time to give something to others in need.

Today's homily reminds us to sacrifice, even for a single day. Some would give up their meal, others would give up vices, and some would donate something to the needy. From a deeper perspective, this is significant since we are taught not to be attached to things that would give us harm and trouble later on.

Our little sacrifice would remind us that some people genuinely suffer while others enjoy life's luxuries. So many people are left hungry, while some would have wasted their food. This is the time to reflect on our life's purpose as Christians--that everything we have is not permanent.

The beginning of the lent is the beginning of our sacrifice, tolerance, and survival. This is like observing Christ's passion, death, and resurrection for 40 days until Easter. The journey may be quite long, but in the process, we reflect on our Christian living, renew our religious vow, and enjoy a happy beginning of a continued self by embracing Christ in our lives forever.

© 2013 Del Cusay