What does this word mean to you?
Christians should know it is Lenten season again. For most people it conjures images of giving something up, such as a certain kind of food.
Lent has been a Christian tradition (especially Catholic) in modern times and it is acknowledged as a meaningful time of the year. It is meaningful because the Resurrection Of Jesus is the essence of the Christian belief.
These posts, however, are about more than reciting facts. They are about examining why we do things so people can stop and think to evaluate where they are.
Every year we hear about Lent. The question the author asks in this post is,
The word Lent itself comes from a Teutonic (German) word that means something resembling 'Spring". It means a renewal. In this sense it signifies beginning a new life that is better.
1. By remembering the sacrifice of Jesus for humankind.
A main theme of Lent is the Resurrection of Jesus. Have you ever stopped to think that Jesus did not have to atone for the sin of humans? God could have chosen to leave you dead to your sins and an eternity of torment. Technically this is what humans deserve.
One thing to remember is the level of suffering that Jesus voluntarily took on for this atonement. He was nailed, scourged and beaten, etc. to take your sin so you don't have to.
Why does God love you so much to sacrifice his only son? If you have children would you sacrifice your only child?
Also, to go through 40 days without food or drink for a human would be painful, to say the least.
2. To remind humans of things like moderation and balance in life.
If you are giving something up for Lent there is a chance you are using too much of it the rest of the year. If you are focused on giving something up it also gets you to think about how often you use whatever it is. Your level of use might be more than you thought.
In the Eastern Orthodox tradition fasting is always accompanied by prayer. The Devil is tempting humans, just like he did to Jesus. What God created was good, in moderation.
3. To remember sacrifices that were made before Jesus came to earth.
In the Old Testament, before the Messiah came, sacrifices were offered to God, including animals. What did these animals do to deserve this punishment? They took on the sins of humans.
It reminds us that something had to be done to atone for human sin. On their own humans would be in a dark, unforgiving place. Without a sacrifice of some sort humans would be left with their own sin and the consequences of it.
4. To strengthen a person spiritually.
This is important. When Jesus fasted (and prayed) in the desert he was preparing for temptation by the Devil. (Gospel Of Matthew 4:1-11) This tells people it takes preparation to face the temptations of the Devil. Jesus is your guide.
Humans face similar temptations in modern times. Humans were not born with the automatic strength to resist these temptations and it takes effort to succeed.
These reminders should help a person progress in their relationship with God.
As Pope Francis recently put it, "Lent should shake us from our 'torpor'".
If you go to more masses this time of year just remember it is not meant to restrict you. It is not meant to bore you. Rather it is to help you acknowledge the amazing possibilities that are before you, if you choose.
God does not want you to suffer just to suffer, but rather to reflect and learn. In Christianity suffering is redemptive.
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