Monday, 12 February 2018


It’s not so long since we celebrated Christmas. Soon we shall be celebrating the Paschal Mystery of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. Each celebration has a period of a few weeks of preparation. The first (Advent) was about Jesus coming into the world, the second (Lent) will be about His leaving the world.  People might soon be asking ‘What are you giving up for Lent? What extra good works are you going to do? We may be asking ourselves the same!’

This is all well and good, but it doesn’t explain why these big events get this particular kind of attention.  We should also note that both Advent and Lent attach great importance on our need to repent of our sins -  followed  by our need to have God forgive them in the  Sacrament  of  Reconciliation (Confession).

It’s all about God doing  a sublime repair job; a rescue operation… the Salvation History of Mankind. God created man in His own image and likeness – utterly godly, holy, and unsoiled by sin.  It is with sadness that St. Paul tells us,  “It was through one man that sin came into the world, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned.” (Rom. Ch. 5)

The sin-contaminated human family has been rescued by One whose birth is celebrated at Christmas, the One to be named ‘Jesus’ because He was the One to save His people from their sins – Mary’s child, the Son of God. In this same letter to the Romans St. Paul contrasts the damage done to mankind by Adam’s Original Sin to the godliness restored to mankind through one man, Jesus. “One man's offence brought condemnation on all humanity; and one man's good act has brought justification and life to all humanity.  Just as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience are many to be made upright.” (Rom. Ch. 5).

The Letter to the Ephesians tells us the ambitions Our Heavenly Father, Our Creator, has for mankind “God chose us in Christ before the world began to be holy and blameless in His sight. In Him and through His blood, we have been redeemed, and our sins forgiven, so immeasurably generous is God’s favor to us,” (Eph. 1).

Ever since the Fall God’s emphasis has been on the restoration of the beauty of holiness, “Be Holy because I the Lord your God am Holy,” (Leviticus 19.2).  In the Letter to the Ephesians we are told, “Christ loved the Church and sacrificed Himself for her  to make her holy by washing her in cleansing water with a  form of words,  so that when He took the Church to Himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless,” (Eph. 5).

Our spirituality during Lent should be focused on the godliness, the holiness with which God wishes to clothe you, me, indeed, the whole of mankind. It is through Jesus Christ, our Crucified and Risen Lord, through His obedient, self-sacrificing love that the sin of man’s ugly, self- centred disobedience to God is overcome, overwhelmed.

  During Lent we  should contemplate how much  love God has shown for us through His Son, our Brother.  Jesus died for us, He rose from the dead for us. We should be elated. We should be lost for words with which to express our gratitude to Jesus. From this should arise in us a longing, a desire to claim for ourselves what Jesus has achieved for us.

We should  yearn to be freed of whatever hinders us from savouring the Amazing Grace of our being found by God. As we repent of our sins, confess them and have them forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation we actually engage ourselves in our very own Salvation History.

Far from God or the Church being obsessed with  sin they are obsessed with the holiness, the godliness that is stifled by sin.

God grant all of us a Lent that is inspiring and liberating  a Lent in which the redeeming love of Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection is for us the reason for the season.

Peter Clarke, O.P.

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