Thursday, 18 February, 2021
Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Immediately after Ash Wednesday where Jesus has taught us the proper meaning of the three pillars of Lent: almsgiving, prayer and fasting, we’re today not so much completely on a new topic but on an aspect that ought to make this Lenten Season and our Lenten fast fruitful – Self-denial. When Peter denied Jesus it means that he said of Jesus, ‘I do not know the man.’ To deny ourselves is to say, ‘I do not know myself.’ Self-denial is to ignore the existence of oneself, to treat the self as if it did not exist. One of the greatest instincts in man is the instinct of self-preservation. Usually we treat ourselves as if we’re by far the most important thing or the only thing in the world. Jesus puts it before us that if we must follow him, then we must deny ourselves.
We’re called to take up a cross and follow Jesus, that is, to be prepared to face cruel, shameful and dishonourable things for the sake of Christ, to be ready to endure the worst that anyone can do to us for the sake of being true to Jesus. We’re called to change the whole gamut of the world’s standard. It’s ‘no longer how much can I get?’ but, ‘How much can I give?’ Not ‘What is the safe thing to do?’ but, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ As Christians, we must come to the realization that life is given, not to keep for ourselves but to spend for others; not to nurture its flame but to burn it out for Christ and for others.
For a fruitful Lenten Season, we’re called to deny ourselves. To deny ourselves some pleasure at least for the sake of others. Can we reduce or completely stop the intake of alcohol and give the money to others, especially the poor? Can we deny ourselves some of our unnecessary and even necessary celebrations and give the proceeds to those who’re hungry and poor? Can we deny ourselves of falsehood and speak the truth? Can we deny ourselves of complaints and appreciate what we have? Can we deny ourselves gossip to say kind words about our brothers or sisters? Can we deny ourselves vengeance to accept the olive branch of peace and reconciliation? These and more are expected of us during this season. They may be difficult, but the Grace of God is sufficient.
Prayer: Lord, help us to choose the hard right over the easy left. Amen!
Fr. Francis Bebia
Regina Pacis, Ofumbongha.