For Lent — prayer, fasting and helping others
Wednesday was a special day–Ash Wednesday. It begins a special time of the year we call Lent. There are three things that people do during Lent: prayer, fasting, almsgiving.
First, prayer. There are many ways of praying . One simple way is to think of doing it in four ways, spelling out the word “T A P S.” T for thanksgiving; A for ask; P for praise; S for sorry.
Why pray? Why should we thank, praise, ask, say we are sorry? Because there are so many things we do not control fully. We depend on a Power-God-a Power greater than ourselves. There are so many things that surprise us, make us wonder, trouble us, make us afraid. The power of God is greater than my power. I need to accept that Power and say “yes” to that Power who is a person–God. I need to say to God “I depend on You.” We say that every time we pray.
We ask, ask, ask, why? Because we can solve all our problems? We can’t. Fix our world? We know we can’t. We are weak, yes. When we pray, we say, “I am weak; I depend on You God; I must depend on You, please help me.”
The second thing is fasting; it means we eat less, why? It reminds us here in America we can go to the fridge and get food anytime we want, but there are so many people in the world who do not have enough food; they are hungry always, and we should not forget them . We fast, eat less, to save money, and then we can give the money to the poor. We fast because this beautiful body of ours, this wonderful body, we know it will become old and weak and sick and this body will pass away; we will all die. So we need to focus on what will last always–the central part of our being; we call it the soul; We want the center of our person to continue living with God, with joy, with peace, with happiness forever. Fasting, eating less, helps us focus on what is most important in our life.
The third thing is almsgiving; it means we give to help the poor. Sometimes we focus so much on me myself, or we focus on our close family; and that is fine. But also we need to see our responsibility to the wider world and focus on people we know and people we don’t know. We must care for them; we can give them money, yes. But also we can give them time, listen to them, give them patience, give them our energy, give them our interest, give them forgiveness, give them understanding.
So for Lent three things–prayer, fasting, almsgiving. Do I have a story about this? Sorry no story today, but the most important story is always the story of Jesus. Know Jesus, imitate him.
Remember Jesus prayed, Jesus the Son of God, he still prayed. Why? He wanted to have a deep relationship with his Father God. He prayed; he gave thanks; he asked for help; he praised his Father.. He wanted to know his Father’s will, what God his Father wanted him to do. To learn this, he needed to pray, to talk to his Father. We need to do the same thing–to pray, talk to God our Father, ask him what he wants us to do.
[For the words of today’s gospel, click here.]
Fasting. Today the story is about Jesus in the desert; he became very hungry in the desert. Why? So he would be strong to do what God his Father wanted.
Almsgiving. Jesus did not have a lot of money to give, but Jesus gave a lot. He gave time to people. He gave his energy, teaching and preaching. He gave forgiveness and love. And he gave his greatest gift–his life. He gave his life for us on the cross. So the best story is always the story of Jesus. Know the story of Jesus so you can love him more.