Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the Liturgical Calendar of the Catholic Church entails different seasons which reflect various moments in the history of our salvation. Each of these moments provides us the opportunity to contemplate divine mysteries and reflect on our relationship with God. Lent is one of such moments that predispose us to encounter Jesus Christ in His passion, death and resurrection, usually re-enacted yearly to draw us closer to God and foster good relations with our fellow men. Lent comprises a period of forty days in which we journey with the Lord from Galilee to Jerusalem. The Church calls these forty days Quadragesima and it does so with clear reference to Sacred Scripture where the number forty is often used symbolically to express “A time of expectation, preparation, purification, repentance and return to the Lord.” Noah spent forty days and forty nights in the flood; Moses waited on the Lord for forty days and forty nights at Sinai, without eating or drinking water (Ex.34:28); the Israelites journeyed for forty years in the wilderness; Elijah walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of the Lord at Horeb (1Kgs.19:8); most importantly, Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the desert before He began his public ministry (Matt.4:2). More so, the entire Gospel of Luke is an account of the journey of Jesus that begins in Galilee and ends in Jerusalem. Geographically, Galilee is 690 feet below sea level while Jerusalem is about 2500 feet above sea level. Of it, the Psalmist says, “Jerusalem is built as a city, strongly compact. It is there that the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord.” As the new ‘tribe’ of Christ, we Christians are called to journey with Jesus by faith and good works during the season of Lent. His journey from Galilee to Jerusalem is an ascent, an upward movement to the cross – a movement from passion through death to the resurrection. This outer physical ascent represents an inner spiritual ascent to which we are called during this season. This ascent involves self-transcendence and interior conversion which can be realised through a life of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
To be continued next week .
Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins is the Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.
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