Love keeps no records- A pre-Lenten reflection

Love keeps no records- A pre-Lenten reflection

The words of St Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13, is a fair reminder of what the season of Lent is meant to be. Jesus died for us, period. There was no deal cracked between God and man; He loved us, plain and simple, no conditions applied. God kept no record of His love and most certainly does not ask for a trade in. Lent is a time when we do what we do, not to keep a record for ourselves in heaven or to trade it in at the pearly gates; lent is a time when we simply love because He loved us first. In Lent we keep no records we just love.

So to help you step into this joyful season may I offer a few thoughts?

Understand what Lent means not what it has come to mean

The very word Lent comes from the Ango-Saxon word “lencten” meaning “spring”. It is not therefore a season where one drives oneself into sadness or mourning. It is a time of new beginnings and new beginnings always bring joy. The Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and abstinence are seen and marketed by a consumerist world as joyless activities for there is no financial gain for such a market; yet for the seeker of faith, hope and charity (love) there is much to smile about. Reorient your thinking this Lent and if it’s springtime in your heart then let it show on the outside. Put on a smile this Lent “not a gloomy look like the hypocrites”. (Matthew 6: 16)

Don’t be concerned by what others are or are not doing.

Lent is a sandwiched between two days of public fasting; Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The rest of the season is a private affair. The tendency that we often indulge in, is to compare our Lenten discipline with that of others, as if salvation was won by a person who did more for Christ. Salvation is a free gift; God loves us unconditionally. To think that we can win His favour by out-beating our neighbour’s Lenten discipline, is folly, to say the least. Remember it is not what you do or not do in Lent that matters but the fruit of it that matters. When the time spent in not watching TV in Lent is given freely to an aged neighbour, then one begins to bear the fruit of the Lenten season. That may seem insignificant to you when you compare it to a person who fasts for all forty days; but remember what you do is not insignificant to God.

Don’t be frustrated if your Lenten resolve was broken on the third day after Ash Wednesday

So you promised to not lose your cool this Lent and you did it before the first hundred hours of Lent had passed and now you want to give up? Please Don’t! We all resolve to give God (or our relationships for that matter) a hundred per cent but then we fail. It’s OK. God is not looking for perfectionist in Lent; He is not disappointed that your resolve to pray more was interrupted on day six or sixteen. God is looking for people who don’t give up, He looks at the heart. If you think that you began well but have now fallen to forty per cent, don’t worry, just push yourself again. Forty per cent is great in God’s eyes because He sees the effort not merely the grade.

Discern your Lenten discipline.

The Church offers you three Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and abstinence. Fleshing out this framework into tangible ways requires discernment. Discernment is time spent quietly with Jesus asking Him what is the best for you this Lent. Most people pick some ‘activity,’ as it were, to do in Lent. Lent is not some activity time as much as it is a period of reflecting on the great love of God for us through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. You need to sit and talk to Jesus, chat with Him and ask Him what He thinks is best for you this Lent.

 Ask Him what Lenten discipline will bring you closer to Him in your relationship with the Divine. Lent is not a time when “I do” things for Jesus, for it just may be a time when you are called “not to do” things that you usually do. If you have not yet had the time to do that so far, then spend some time before you begin your mass on Ash Wednesday. Ask Jesus what Is it that He would like you to focus on rather than inform Him of what you think you ought to do.

I began this reflection by saying that Love keeps no records for I believe that God long wiped the slate; He keeps no record, for no one has time to keep records when one is busy loving.  It’s time we did the same and not use this season as record of our love for Him.

Fr Warner D’Souza

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