The Spirit of Lent

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Friday after Ash Wednesday

Matthew 9:14-15
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I come to you today to pray for the whole world. I want my Lenten efforts to help bring grace to my family, the Church, and our country. Help me to have a positive spirit that offers sacrifice joyfully.
Encountering Christ:

  1. Spiritual Comparisons: In this Gospel, John the Baptist’s disciples seemed to be comparing their spiritual rigor more favorably to the (presumed) laxity of Jesus’s disciples. Perhaps we could reflect on how the saying “comparisons are odious” could cover this situation and others that we might encounter this Lent. Sometimes we see others doing less and resent it. Or maybe we find ourselves feeling embarrassed by someone who seems to be doing more. Instead of comparing, which is never advisable, we should really look at ourselves in the mirror and ask, “Am I doing what God wants me to do this Lent?”
  2. Perpetual Wedding Guests: Another aspect of today’s Gospel that we might consider is what attitude should imbue our Lenten efforts. Jesus remarked that the wedding guests (his disciples) should not have been mourning because the bridegroom was still with them. Certainly, the bridegroom is always with us: Jesus is always present, in the Eucharist, through the Holy Spirit, in the words of the Gospel. So, even if we are feeling the pain of sacrificing and fasting, it can help to remember that the Lord is with us. We are his perpetual wedding guests!
  3. Then They Will Fast: We know that we are sinners and that the world is marked by much evil. We can rejoice in knowing that our penance offsets some of the evil that afflicts society. Our Lady of Fatima taught the little seers this prayer: “Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of you, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” May the Lord find us willing to give up some of our comforts to help souls reach heaven.

Conversing with Christ: Lord, free me from all judgments. Help me not to compare myself to others, but rather to be totally focused on pleasing you. Help me to do all I can to advance the cause dearest to your heart, the salvation of souls!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will offer my Lenten efforts in particular for one person that I know really needs prayers.
For Further Reflection: “There is more security in self-denial, mortification, and other like virtues, than in an abundance of tears” (St. Teresa of Jesus).
Written by Father Steven Reilly, LC.

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