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31.03.2021 02:19:17 1883x read.
Lent: a time for Fasting, Prayer, Almsgiving and FORGIVENESS.

Lent: a time for Fasting, Prayer, Almsgiving and FORGIVENESS.

The message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2021 calls for our humble reflec- tion on three very important areas of our Christian faith: (a) Faith [which] calls us to accept the truth and testify to it before and all our broth- ers and sister; (b) hope as “living water” enabling us to continue our journey and (c) love, following the footsteps of Christ, in concern and compassion for all, is the highest expression of our faith and hope. In addition to these cardinal Christian virtues: faith, hope and love, I add the fourth one: FORGIVENESS of "self and others".


There is an undeniable connection between what we really believe to be true about vertical forgiveness and our willingness to extend horizontal forgiveness. Charles Spurgeon said, "To be forgiven is such sweetness that honey is tasteless in comparison with it. But yet there is one thing sweeter still, and that is to forgive yourself and others (TerKeurst, 2020)". Forgiveness can be excruciatingly hard. It can seem like one of the most unfair of all God’s commands. But we must remember who is asking us to forgive. God. So, as we navigate forgiveness within the complexities of relationships where we have been deeply wounded and sometimes even abused, God’s command to forgive is not absent of God’s compassion and comfort to those who wish to grow into GOD’S GRACE by forgiving kindly and accepting it freely. It is a moment to be humble. Humility invites in the strength of God into our lives and our community and our relationships. Pride drains out the strength of God. The psalmist tells us, "In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God" (Psalm 10:4). The only way to live at peace with one another is to remember that, forgiveness is unlimited and unconditional. Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times" (Matthew 18:21–22). The period of lent is an opportune time to empty our hearts of bitterness, to forgive ourselves and others so that we can properly reflect with our words and actions the beautiful traits of kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness.

The more we are full of God especially during this period of lent, the less and less we will be full of ourselves. The more we know and imitate God’s ways, the more humble we become. The more humble we become, the quicker we desire to submit to God, resist the devil, and make sure the words we use contain godly wisdom and not bitterness and selfishness. Therefore, if we have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then let us make the joy of Christ our Lord complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being "of one heart and soul" (FIC Const, No. 35). Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of us seek the interests of the other. In our relationships with one another, let us have the same mindset as Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:1–5). Peace is the evidence of a life of forgiveness. "The enemy of our soul loves the way bitterness blocks healing for us and prevents the goodness of God from being put on display."

The Word of God gives us a foundation of truth to turn to when the uncertainties of hard relationships make us want to act and react out of our revved-up emo- tions. When we talk about forgiveness, we are bringing up memo- ries of some of the hard- est things each of us has ever been through in our entire life. That is why this reflection is presented with empathy, tenderness, grace, and prayer for our journey throughout this most holy period of lent. As GC the only thing we ask in return is that you also pray for us. Like we have said before, we are in this spiritual journey together. Therefore let us take care of one another, just as our Saving God cares for us. Let us dare to ask the Lord, that this spiritual journey may be a blessing for all of us and to those for whom we have consecrated our lives to service (TerKeurst, 2020). And, finally, our Holy Father Francis puts it quite succinctly thus: May the Lord direct our hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance in self-denial (fasting), concern and loving care for the poor (almsgiving) and childlike dialogue with the Father (prayer).

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