The last parades are rolling down St. Charles and the Krewes are in rare form in the revelry that’s Mardi Gras. Tomorrow we begin our purgation, our transformation; tomorrow we begin the great season of Lent. But what’s it all about? Why Lent?
A Scribe once approached Jesus with an honest question (Mark 12:28-34), “What’s the greatest commandment?” He needed to know. He wanted it in a nut shell. Jesus, appreciating the guy’s honesty, quotes scripture: “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” And then he adds, "The second is this, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Plain and simple, that’s what it’s all about.
So why Lent? It’s where we learn to live that commandment with epic generosity. If that commandment is the meaning of life, then lent is a time to embrace the meaning of life in its entirety.
So what should I do to live the commandment?
Pray: If the first commandment is to love the Lord with my whole self then I begin by doing what people in love do- I communicate with Him. I make Him THE absolute center of my entire life.
Fast: If I should love my neighbor as myself then I have to properly love myself. Fasting helps me to discipline my passions and desires so my will can thrive. Love is an act of the will, not an act of desire.
Give Alms: When God is loved above all, and I know His love for me, and self love is properly ordered, I can then love my neighbor with that same love I’ve received.
This whole journey leads us to Holy Week- the moment when Jesus lived his commandment to perfection on the Cross. Lent is how we take up our Cross and follow Him. We are walking to Calvary during Lent. Let’s walk generously.