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LENT: Our Journey to Jerusalem

Authored by Rev. Fr. Mark Mandela Anyigbah


It is the time of the year when, we, like the disciples of Jesus heed to his invitation: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem” (Matthew 20:18). Our Holy Father Pope Francis reiterates in his Lenten message for the 2021 that Lent is a journey to renew our Faith, Hope and Love.

What happened in Jerusalem for which reason we have to journey there?
Jerusalem is the place where Jesus suffered death, was buried, rose and ascended into Heaven. It is also the same place where the disciples waited for the outpouring of the Spirit. In sum, it is the place where the central events of our salvation took place.

Our journey to Jerusalem though, is not to a geographical location, rather it is a journey of faith to an encounter with the Lord so that the events of the paschal mystery would take place in our own life. It is a journey where we die to die to our old sinful self, rise in grace to a new life and to renew in grace and the virtues of faith, hope and love.

This death to sin is made possible through our self-denial expressed through fasting from food, pleasures of the world and sinful habits; our genuine love for one another through almsgiving and our sublime union with God through persistent prayer and meditation on the Word of God. Lent is a time to have a heart to heart relationship with the Lord through a personal commitment to be with him. The church offers us many graceful spiritual exercises like Holy Masses, Lenten pilgrimages, Confessions, Personal retreats, Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy prayer and many other devotions. These spiritual exercises fill in and satisfy the thirst and the hunger that is created within us through our fasting and they unite us to Jesus in a special way.

The 40-day period of Lent should remind us of powerful encounters with God in scripture. In scripture, the number 40 is symbolic of a period of time when God manifested his power in a special way and also trial and testing of man. The 40 day and night rains during Noah’s time (Genesis 6:11–9:19), Moses’ 40 days and nights on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 34:28), Jonah’s proclamation in Nineveh of God’s destruction in 40 days (Jonah 3:4) are but few of the symbolic use of the number 40 in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus’ prayer and fasting for 40 days clearly come to mind.

With these scriptural passages in mind, I humbly urge you to make a conscious decision to be part of this 40-day journey to Jerusalem. Make it your personal conversion experience a special encounter God. It will surely be a delight to walk with Jesus to Jerusalem.

May this season of grace and renewal aid us to grow in faith, in hope and in love. I wish you a fruitful Lenten season.

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