When we dwell on our spiritual starting point of baptism we are also given a clear sign post to where we are headed. Our baptism tells us that we are set apart for God and are heirs to the promises associated with our adoption into God’s family. Our baptism truly sets us apart in a veiled way compared with the clear outward sign of the imposition of ashes at the beginning of Lent. If you think back to previous years when you were able to attend an Ash Wednesday Mass or service, the reception of ashes on the forehead is a clear sign that you have been set apart for God. It also shows the destination that we are moving towards, the celebration of Christ’s victory of the cross. Our baptism makes us partakers of this mystery, through these waters we enter into the death of Christ so that we might also share in his resurrection.
Lent is a season where we are invited to journey with Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days, to be guided by the Spirit and prepared to receive the spiritual renewal that God wants to offer us. We are called to turn away from sin, renew our belief in the gospel message and remember the ultimate end that we are striving for, namely life with God in Heaven. During this Lenten journey we turn away from the pleasures of the world in the things that we have decided to fast from so that we might place more emphasis on our spiritual lives and our relationship with God. Fasting and prayer helps us in our intention of drawing close to God, it enables us to be properly disposed to receive the many gifts that God wants to give us. It is a reminder that we are not living for this world, and that our true home is in the world to come. Fasting and prayer helps us to more easily see the work of God in our lives, especially when we remove distractions that prevent us from being truly open to God.
When we give up something which is good in itself, for love of God, we acknowledge that our relationship with God is more important than any material thing that we could ever possess. It gives us a renewed insight into just how important our membership in God’s family is, and that our baptism is something to be truly cherished. As we begin this season of Lent let us pray for one another that we might all receive the grace necessary to place Christ at the centre of our lives as we journey with him to the cross and ultimately the resurrection at Easter.
Fr Tony King-Archer