What is the spiritual significance of Lent? Why do we take this 40-day journey? Is it just a time to give up sweets or caffeine as some sort of sacrifice? Or is there perhaps something more, a greater purpose to this time? There are several forty-day periods recorded in the Bible. One was when Moses went up to the mountain to pray and fast; concluding with his receiving of the Ten Commandments. Another was the time when Elijah withdrew to the cave in the side of Mount Horeb. And there was the experience of Jesus in the wilderness following his baptism; which climaxed with the temptation. Each of these periods was a time of fasting and prayer, of self-discipline and self-denial. And each was charged with some great spiritual experience.
Perhaps this is the best way for us to understand and approach Lent. To take these 40 days, plus six Sundays, and enter a time of meditation, prayer, and even self-denial in the hope that we too might enter more fully into the spiritual experience of Easter. Perhaps this is a good time to ask ourselves what we need to do in order that we might be better equipped and more free to serve our Lord.
This Lent I encourage you to embark on a journey of discovery. A journey with Jesus to the cross. Walk with him, hear him speak, listen to him teach, watch him heal, share his compassion, feel his sorrow, understand his pain, weep at Calvary...but don’t stay there. Join Mary at the empty tomb on Easter morning where you too can proclaim “He is Risen; He is Risen indeed!”
Perhaps, in the end, rather than having given up something, we will receive far more than we could ever imagine.