Musings on Love and Lent: A Gift and A Sacrifice
Just like in previous years, Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday (which kicks-off the season of Lent) fall during the month of February, i.e., the former on the 14th while the latter on the 22nd, (that’s today). Both of these celebrations embrace the virtue of Love. They are God’s blessings to us, however, there is a responsibility that goes with it.
Some people would say that celebrating love and affection for one another should be expressed everyday, and not only on Valentine’s day. There is no argument about this but the sad reality is, it’s not always the case. Life is not a bed of roses, as the old adage says. At times, there are so many things to do and challenges to face over the 364 days in a year, and so certain times we neglect and fail to see the more essential things in life. Most, if not all, couples do experience ups and downs and so at least a special day for them, to step up and shout out the love and care that they have for each other, is but fair enough no matter how simple the celebration is.
Love and Lent serve as a reminder for us to treasure and affirm our human relationships, to show affection and most importantly to spread LOVE (minus the expensive material gifts, box of chocolates, fancy dinners, and high-priced flowers) to one another, in line with God’s commandments. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave us two greatest commandments: to love Him with all our hearts…, and 2. to love one another just as He loved us. St. Paul states that “Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Thus, if and when our love for other people involves some bad and negative thoughts/actions, selfish desires or feelings, that isn’t love at all. Loving God and someone require time for self-examination and a sacrifice. Our Lord God showed us how to love, a love that is open to anything sans conditionality, willing and prepared to undergo challenges and difficulties in life. When we truly love God and the people around us, it should not be selfish but selfless, and that is one essential facet of love.
Love and Lent are a blessing, a gift from God. Love comes unexpectedly and in mysterious ways. Thus, we should be willing and ready to embrace “love” when it comes, otherwise we might end up just loving ourselves. God’s love is the kind of love that will never fade away. As such, the gift of life that has been given us with the capacity to love and be loved are the very things in this life that we should be grateful about. God is the definition of “love” to perfection. We should be thankful for having been endowed with this gift of loving and to do anything we want and love on daily basis, e.g. love to work, love to read, love to eat, love to travel and be with our friends and most especially the love to help others. All these gifts of loving stem from God because as the phrase goes: God is Love and Love is God.
While the “love month” gives us the opportunity to reminisce, cherish and rekindle our own love life, it reminds us also of God’s gift of love to us. God’s love is the best gift of love by far, the proof of which is Jesus who was and is still with us today saving us from eternal damnation. If we’re given a day to express our love and affection extraordinarily to our loved ones on Valentine’s Day, we are given so much time during Lent, approximately 40 days, to reflect about our love for God. God wants us to spare a little of our time with Him, alone with Him in silence and through prayers. Do we find time for Him everyday? Well, this may pose a challenge particularly for some of us who are preoccupied with work and other daily chores, or those who are perhaps distracted by the worldly things and the noisy commotions around. However, making an effort to achieve this goal would not only be beneficial to us, but would also definitely make our Lord Jesus happy. And who knows, there might be some rewards waiting for those who have heeded God’s call, either here on Earth or in His Kingdom.
During the Lenten season, we commemorate God’s greatest love for mankind when He suffered and died on the Cross to save mankind. This is the right time of the year to learn how to love God again, to check if our values and priorities are in accord with God’s plan for us. Our Lord Jesus gives Himself to us so that we might give ourselves to Him and each other. That sacrifice, that self-giving of Jesus for us is meant for all of us so that we might gradually be transformed into Him. We are given unceasing “second chances” to turn away from wrongdoings, to seek forgiveness and repentance, and ultimately make good, do best in the eyes of God and return to Him with our whole heart and soul. That’s how God loves us – His love for us is just so infinite. He is sad if we fail to follow Him and continue to wander from His path. If we truly love God, do we want to make Him feel sad?
Pope Francis once stated that all of us are God’s gifts, including the gift of love. Thus, we have to love one another. Since God’s love is unconditional and boundless, we ought to give back this gift of love by sharing the same to others as well. The Holy Father clarified that “we discover the true joy” when we give back to God this gift of love by sharing the same to those in need even without recognition or reward. This gift of love would earn best results if we let God guide us, allowing Him to hold our hands like a gentle father of the family.
So, whether it is Lent or Valentine’s Day, we are reminded that we have a weapon here on earth to strengthen ourselves and thwart the enemy and that weapon is LOVE. When we have God’s love and the true love from our loved ones, and if that love is shared to others, we shall all be welcomed by God in His Heavenly Kingdom, as one big happy family!
Our loving and merciful God, please make us good followers of Yours. Please deepen our faith in you, bring us closer to You, Lord, so that we may always respond to Your call to be with you in silence, to talk to You, especially during this time of Lent. Please Lord, guide us on how to walk in Your presence, teach us on how to hear Your words, and receive messages from You, to comprehend well and trust on it. All this we ask and pray, in Jesus Mighty Name. Amen.
Have a meaningful and blessed Lenten season to you all.