Pondicherry Archdiocese

“Lent is the Springtime of the Church”


Dear Fathers, Brothers, Sisters and my dear People,


            This year on the 14th of February we begin the sacred season of Lent by celebrating the Ash Wednesday. I really admire the Mother Church, the way she has distributed the mysteries of our salvation throughout the year, to be celebrated in order to experience the fruits in our lives. The Liturgical year begins with the season of 4 weeks of Advent in order to prepare for the feast of Incarnation. Then the feast of Christmas, the Octave of Christmas and the Christmas season. Then we have a short period of Ordinary season in order to personalize the mystery of Incarnation in our lives. Then comes the 40 days of Lent in order to prepare for the feast of Pascal mystery; the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Then the Holy Week and the great feast of Easter. After that we have the Easter Octave followed by the Easter season.  After that we have the long ordinary season in order to live and personalize the Paschal Mystery.


            So, on 14th February we begin the holy season of lent. It is not a gloomy season as we think, since the Church asks us to observe fast, abstinence and many other   spiritual practices. The word ‘Lent’ comes from the old English ‘Lenten’, which is shortened as ‘Lent’ means Springtime. Thus, it is the springtime of the Church. Because it is a time of “Renewal”. Through all the Lenten observances   we are renewed and we come closer to God and to people. That is why it is a joyful season. It is a season of home coming. 


            To make this year’s Lenten Season more fruitful I would like to reflect with you the temptation narrative of Jesus (Mt. 4:1-11). A person’s life depends on the life principle he or she follows. In the first temptation of Jesus, he is tempted to follow the life principle of pleasure. But he says no to it. People who live by the life principle of pleasure are selfish, they will see only their needs, they will be proud and boasting, they will not take risks, compromise with responsibilities, adjust and give up values and moral rectitude, easily get into various addictions, will always expect more from others, treat others as commodities and use them for their own pleasure, Always comfort seeking, worldly-minded etc.  


            The second temptation of Jesus is to live by the “Life principle of Name and Fame”. Many of us live just for one’s name. There are people who are ready to do anything for Popularity. They are also deep-rooted selfish people. They always expect to be praised appreciated and awarded. They are more egoistic. They will lack the courage to stand for truth. They are mostly people of compromise. In order to safeguard their name, they will be ready to deny and betray easily. They may do heroic things but only to get name and not with a genuine love for God and people. Such people will go more for show, extravaganza and publicity. They will love more of pomp and show and even make prayers and liturgical celebrations more as a function and will dilute the mystery dimension. They will concentrate more on mighty ornamental structures, churches, grottos, big gates with Arches etc. and will lack the sense and dedication to build the faith community. From the gospels we can see the Apostle Peter was hungry for name and fame and so he could not actualize his love for Jesus but denied him to save his name. 


            The third temptation is to live by “the Life Principle of Power and Wealth”. Jesus rejects it. People with this life principle will not be people – oriented. Their priority in life is wealth, money and power. They will be always dominating people. They will be always arrogant and too demanding. This type of people will even disown their own family members for the sake of money. To get into power they will go to any extent even getting rid of people or eliminating anyone as a hindrance on the way. This can be a serious addiction. We have examples of people holding on the power and not wanting to give up even if their term in office is ended. We can see in parishes some groups or particular families holding responsibilities for years and not allowing to form Parish Councils and other pious associations in the parish. People of this type are a stumbling block for Synodality. We have enough and more examples of land scam, manipulation of accounts and many such related scandals also in the Church. Power corrupts people. We have the example of Judas betraying Jesus for 30 silver coins.


            Thus, Jesus rejects all the three life Principles. 1. Life Principle of Pleasure, 2. Life Principle of Name and Fame and 3. Life Principle of Power and Wealth. Then what is the life Principle of Jesus? In Jn. 13:1-17 we read Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. He being Lord and Master bends and washes the feet of his disciples and tells them to do likewise. Here we find the life principle of Jesus. It is a “Life Principle of Love and Service”. It is our love for one another which is manifested in our service to one another. When we live this life principle of Jesus, we will become like him, living for others, serving others, bringing unity, love, joy and peace in families, parishes, communities and everywhere.


            For this only, the season of Lent is given to us. Let this Lent enable us to take up Jesus’ life principle and live a life of Synodality where the divisive factors will disappear.


            Wish you all a fruitful season of Lent.