Jun 28, 2010, 4:12 PM
Ash Wednesday is gone, which denotes that man comes from dust and unto dust, man shall return to where he belongs. It is time for all Christians to fast as Jesus Himself showed the way, fasting in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. Christians see it as a necessity to follow the pattern. The ashes from the palm leaves on Palm Sunday are burnt and blessed by the priest and placed on the forehead with a sign of the cross as the priest says: "Thou art from dust and unto dust thou shall return."The action is meant to remind every believer that man has to die, in line with which, man should live a holy life as practised from Ash Wednesday to the day Jesus rose from the dead to give mankind hope of resurrection. Christian Panorama now talks on Ash Wednesday, Lent and all it takes to keep it holy.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Christian fasting for forty days and forty nights. The forehead is signed with a cross with a reminder for man's return to his/her maker. During this time fasting, penance and almsgiving are observed. But note should be taking of not showing off that one is fasting. It is done by not the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing. Many would be confused as to how the Christian fasting is done, but it simply comprises of giving up what one loves during the Lenten or fasting period. It is a way in which the body is deprived of certain things to pray for sins.
Fasting during Lent is an obligation, therefore during the Ash Wednesday like that of February 17, 2010, the process began and Christians brace themselves for the desert journey for forty days and nights. Many will see it as easy but not as such. During this period, man’s fasting becomes obligatory on Fridays without eating meat. But what about those who do not have meat even outside Lenten season, some may ask. Well, that is how they find themselves. But it is pertinent that they too give up the little fish they eat instead of meat. It is time for them to let them make their positions known to God.
A Christian that is fasting is expected to give up something in his life. This may include food but not limited to that. It could go beyond. Those who are smokers could give it up and decide to abandon it at the end of Lent with the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. Others may return to it reluctantly but would limit its intake. Those who adore wine and beer give it up during Lent in atonement of their sins so as to give chance to the love they have for their God. Those who eat big bowls of rice and a lot of other things cut them down to half. If you eat a full 'Tapalapa' for breakfast during lent some may limit it to not even taking breakfast and lunch - They eat only their supper with half or quarter of it slashed from it by choice. Some would take a full time breakfast, avoid lunch and take half of their supper. Others will abandon break fast and supper and eat only their breakfast. It is time of sharing and giving, the Christian therefore gives part of whatever is not used to those who are in need in secret. In line with what the individual wears, check in your wardrobe and see what you have not worn in one or two months and give it to the poor society or to the nearest poor person who cannot afford.
When Jesus went to the desert, tempted by the devil, He rejected all the empty offers by the devil. After a long time without food, he was challenged by the devil to change stone into bread and eat if He was the Son of God. He said to the devil, "Man does not live on bread alone." The devil could not win Him over, he then said well, bow down and worship me. This could have been a moment for Jesus to bind Satan and crumple him to zero, leaving him completely dissolved from the surface of the earth but He did not say much to him, but told him it is only God that one should worship. After a tiring temptation Satan looked further and asked Jesus to jump from the top of the mountain to the top of houses in the city, if Jesus was the Son of God but Jesus refused to put God to the test. In his shame the devil left Jesus and He further continued to pray. Jesus experienced the aforesaid because He had both the nature of man and of God.
The nature of God because He worked miracles, above all, raised the dead. He is the only one that ever raised a dead man. The nature of man because He suffered like any man, cried in tears and commended His spirit in God's hands.
During Lent, Christians are implored to look at the life of Jesus, His suffering and death, to live a Christ-like life. People love to live lives that would fit them most and those ways are hardly commensurable to the life Christ’s life demands. e.g. love your neighbour as yourself. This is where difficulties arise in human life. Many would hold grudges against others, steal from others, insult and look low on others. Others would commit adultery and fornication, love only those who love them, become less generous to the poor of society. Others will hate others and create discord in society.
Ash Wednesday therefore teaches Christians to love others by fasting and praying for them and atoning for their own sins. They should therefore give alms, mend broken relationships, give up certain things in their lives and take up attitudes that befit their lives. Lent is a time of complete 'metanoia' (Complete change of heart). By giving up the negative aspects of life, through the fasting, abstinence and almsgiving, man is sure to make a positive change.
Happy Lenten Season to all!