We heard the story again about the temptation of Christ in the gospel reading last Sunday. We are now on the season of Lent and the story of the temptation of Christ, right after his forty-days fasting in the desert, is a classic reminder to us all that these temptations are always present to each and every one of us every day and we must always have the courage to resist these temptations just like what Christ had shown us.
The celebration of Lent is centered on prayer, fasting, sacrifice and alms-giving. These can help us a lot in our own efforts to resist all the worldly temptations that can come to us. Prayer is the best way to communicate with God. In our prayers, we thank him for all the gifts that he gave us and will continue to give us each day. We tell him we are sorry in our prayers especially if we have really done something bad and something that is against his will. We share with him our joys and even our sorrows in our prayers knowing that he is always present all the time to hear our prayers.
Fasting, as we popularly understand the word, can be likened to dieting. Eating one full meal only on the day of fasting (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) is the usual thing that we do. So, fasting can also be understood as giving up or avoiding something that is already a part of our daily ritual. We all love to eat because it is part of our nourishment and sustenance and a necessity for our good health. But, to refrain from taking too much for is also a form of sacrifice because even Christ fasted for forty days in the desert.
However, I believe that we can take this fasting to a higher level because, we can also fast or avoid not only the food that we eat, but we can also fast from things, activities and even persons that we cannot live without. Yes! It is a form of fasting if we can try to limit our addiction to our gadgets and everything that they offer us like the popular on-line games and the social media. I am sure it will not affect us much if we can avoid these things for just a single day, a day for the Lord. It is fasting if we can try to avoid some activities that we had been doing for a long time, especially some habits that are not beneficial to us like gambling, drinking, gossiping and many more.
Lastly, I believe it is a form of fasting if we can avoid persons or people, especially those toxic ones, so we can better pay attention to our prayers. There are people, we all know, that can drive us crazy and mad just by the mere sight of them. There are people who can just turn our fine mood into a disaster because these people are out there with nothing in their hearts but to put down others because of envy, jealousy and some other evil thoughts. Just avoid them because doing otherwise can make you feel bad and they may even cause stress on you to the highest level.
Alms-giving is also encouraged because sharing is one of the marks of a Christian. Our Lord shared everything to us and he shared his very life for our salvation. We must do the same because he gave us an example to follow. There are a lot of people who are ready to share and we can only appreciate them and try to imitate them. But how much do we have to share? Up to what extent must we share our blessing to the less fortunate ones?
It is a noble sharing if we can share until it hurts. I mean, if we only give our surplus to those in need, the merit is less. But, if we can give to others those things that we also need, then, it is a genuine act of kindness and generosity. I believe doing this kind of sharing is heroic but this is the real meaning of sharing.
Well, to wrap it all up, this season of Lent is a moment for us, an opportunity for all of us to stop and look around our lives. Are we still travelling in that same road that will lead us to Christ? Or maybe we got lost along the way and we are now journeying on the opposite direction? There will be a lot of things to be done, especially on things that we need to give up just in order for us to be moving on. The truth has never changed at all… if we want to get closer to Christ, then, we must also be ready and face with all our courage the ultimate challenge to give up many things that this world is offering us. Let us try our best to resist every temptation like what Christ did so we can be assured of a place in his kingdom. Have a grace-filled Lenten celebration everyone!