Lent, a season marked by fasting and penitence, has always been a conundrum to me. And today's readings only add to my perplexity. Easter marks the Christian like no other. Christmas doesn't. One can relatively easily believe that Jesus was born of Mary in Nazareth over 2,000 years ago. However, it is the unyielding belief in Jesus' death and resurrection that defines a true believer, a "Jesus Christian." That is what we celebrate at Easter.
Then why not celebrate during Lent, rather than grieve with all its attendant activities of denial and penitence? Why not celebrate the life and teachings of Jesus during that period instead? Paul writes to Titus, "I desire that you insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works: these things are excellent and profitable to everyone.”
We all know some people who view the denial of pleasurable things during Lent (e.g., alcohol, chocolate, etc.) as more of a test of will than a sacrifice made in honor of Jesus' suffering. Or a way to lose weight, or quit smoking. Would it not be more reflective of the life of Jesus, and the great joy at our belief in his resurrection, to ADD something to our lives during Lent rather than to take something away? Would it not be more Jesus-like to ADD extra acts of kindness and other ways to follow the teachings of Jesus as a Lenten activity? Or perhaps giving more time to others during Lent is a sacrifice. In any case, addition has always been more meaningful to me than subtraction during Lent