With Ash Wednesday the world begins a season of Lent. It is a time of reflection of self in light of God’s greatness and instruction for our lives. It is for many also a time of sacrifice as they give up something important as a sign of devotion and a tool of remembering to focus on God. That reminds me of the following story:
A Catholic priest working in an inner city was walking down an alley one evening on his way home when a young man came down the alley behind him and poked a knife against his back. “Give me your money,” the young man said.
The priest opened his jacket and reached into an inner pocket to remove his wallet, exposing his clerical collar. “Oh, I’m sorry, Father,” said the young man, “I didn’t see your collar. I don’t want YOUR money.”
Trembling from the scare, the priest removed a cigar from his shirt pocket and offered it to the young man. “Here,” he said. “Have a cigar.”
“Oh, no, I can’t do that,” the young man replied, “I gave them up for Lent.”
Sadly, the young man in this humorous story has forgotten the true purpose of Lent Sacrifice…but so have many others. Some wear it as a badge of honor, tooting their own horn as they brag about their sacrifice. Others do it as a ritual without any real personal change or conviction.
But then there are others who truly do reflect on God and allow Him to speak conviction and change into their hearts and lives.
I pray that while the universal church prepares to usher in the coming season of Easter through the sacrifice and reflection of Lent, God might use it to truly draw all closer to Him.