At that time I had no understanding of the true essence of giving up something for Lent. As I grew older, I gradually understood that to give up something is to save for the rainy days. Just like putting away few pennies in a piggy bank for a few weeks and boom…it’s already a dollar! When we denial ourselves of certain bodily pleasure, we are mortified into a disciplined and prudent persons – thus giving up something is actually rewarding in the end.
Following the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi: “it is in giving that we receive,” I’ve come to realize that each time I give up something, I feel a lift in my heart…like a burden is taken off my shoulder. Please let us not misconstrue this to mean that when we offer alms to the needy we are passing on our burdens to them. We are required to be of good service to the needy and the poor, after all these were the people with whom Jesus was friends. “Indeed, I tell you, for as long as you do this to any of the least of my sisters and brothers, you do it unto me.” (cf Matt 25:40). But how hard it is for us to part with our possessions sometimes!!! After all we worked for them, they are ours!!! We live in an individualistic society where communal living is not popular anymore. In short, we believe in and rely on our strength to get whatever we want. We are busy basking in the Euphoria of false needs and beliefs: if only I can get that job, I will be secure and have money to afford modern luxury…Oh yea, I will put in my best at the office so I can impress my boss and be in her/his good book, and yes other members of staff will applaud me and hold me in high esteem…and what about control and power…yes, yes I will do whatever it takes to be the one in charge! Others must listen to me!!! This is our story many a times, and once we are made to be ruled by these false beliefs, getting out of the trap becomes very hard.
Pondering on the temptations of Jesus by the devil in the desert, we see how Jesus reaffirmed that although He was in the nature of God, [He] did not see equality with God as anything to grasp. In response to the devil at the first temptation, Jesus opined that food alone doesn’t nourish us, but we are fulfilled by the words of God. At the second temptation, He said to the devil: never put God to the test, and at the third temptation he retorted: Only God must be worshipped!!! In all three temptations, Jesus points to God the father as the source and summit of our being and survival. Notwithstanding the inevitability of human frailty, God should be the center of our life and in Him alone should we put our trust. He knows about our struggles and will provide us the needed strength to carry us through, and guide us till the day is done.
As we sojourn in this season of Lent, let us remember the poor and the invisible minorities in our community at this Holy season, and stretch out to them a hand of help. After all, it is in giving that we receive!