REND YOUR HEARTS, NOT YOUR GARMENTS JOEL 2,13
Dear Friends in Christ, lent is here again; that period in the Church’s liturgical calendar whereby we journey with the Lord for forty days with fasting, prayers, almsgiving and abstinence in anticipation for Easter. For some persons it might be business as usual, like any other Lenten season in the past, while for some other persons, it poses an opportunity for a real and true encounter with the Lord. Lent serves as an avenue to get into a deeper relationship with the Lord, to reflect over our lives and see how we can turn to the Lord with full and converted hearts. In his Lenten Message for this year, our Holy Father Pope Francis gave vivid pointers as to what we can do to live out fully this year’s Lent. He remarked that we should engage more in carrying out corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Of course we all know that the corporal works of mercy include; to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to harbour the harbourless, to visit the sick, ransom the captive and to bury the dead: while the spiritual works of mercy include; to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to admonish sinners, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive offences willingly, to comfort the afflicted and to pray for the living and the dead. Therefore carrying out acts of mercy will really go a long way in drawing us closer to God as it is indicated in Matt 5,7; Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy!! Good a thing that we are in the jubilee year of Mercy and lent serves as a wonderful platform to beseech the throne of grace for mercy. In addition to these, we can also consider a different approach to fasting. For instance, fasting from anger and hatred by showing more love; fasting from judging others, fasting from discouragements, fasting from complaining by been grateful for what God has given to us; fasting from resentment and bitterness by trying to forgive others; fasting from spending too much money on things that are not necessary and so on. We are told that we are to rend our hearts and not our garments Joel 2,13; we are to be true to ourselves and not dwell more on the externals as God sees the heart of man while people focus and make judgements based on appearances.
Let us therefore avail ourselves of this great grace of Lent that God has given to us to put ourselves before the throne of mercy, to get closer to God, to rend our hearts and get truly converted to Him.
May God grant us the grace to make proper use of this Lent, may He help us to rend our hearts and not our garments, may He be merciful to us as we endeavour to show mercy to others and above all, may He bless us all. Amen
I wish you all a fruitful and spirit filled Lenten season! May the peace of Christ remain with you all. Amen.
Victor Chuks Nwabueze OMV