Yesterday, we celebrated the first Sunday of Lent. In the Gospel, there is a recount of Jesus being led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He had fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards He was hungry. Then, the tempter came to tempt Him.
By abstaining forty days from earthly food, He consecrated through His fast the pattern of our Lenten observance. Even though Jesus knew no sin, He surrendered to the Father’s will to enter into the wilderness to fast and pray for forty days before being tempted by the devil. By overturning the snares of the ancient serpent, Jesus also taught us how to cast out the leaven of malice.
Life is a journey of continuous conversion and sanctification. The Lenten season before Easter, as instituted by the Church, reminds us to learn from the example of Jesus, that by repentance, abstinence, prayer and almsgiving, we can repel temptations and strengthen our faith, thus preparing us to receive God’s grace of salvation.
If people would diligently pursue self-enhancement by various means, we, Christians, in the season of Lent, should seize the opportunity not only to make it our shortcut to holiness and a virtuous life, but also speed up the process of becoming the person whom God has created us to be.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus foretells the scene of the Last Judgment, aiming not to intimidate us but remind us of what the Kingdom of Heaven should be like, and reveal to us the deepest thirst of His heart. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, verse 40, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Our Lord Jesus wants us to be His hands and feet in the world, the channel of His love, and He also wants us to see His face among those who are served.
His desire can’t be clearer! He is only waiting for our responses!
Maybe we would wonder: we don’t know anyone who is hungry or thirsty, homeless or naked, sick or imprisoned. Yet, there are always some people around us who are lonely or neglected, despised or unwelcomed, depressed or lost, helpless or without hope, and so forth. They are not far away from us but close at hand. These brothers and sisters of ours might have been waiting for our attention.
We all could have our targets and start to serve them.
The three acts of faith in Lent, namely, “prayer”, “fasting”, and “almsgiving”, have given us a clear reminder. “Prayer” reminds us to take seriously our relationship with God: set aside time to converse with Him, encounter Christ in prayers, sacraments, and spiritual practices, and through all these, build an intimate relationship with God. “Abstinence and fasting” targets ourselves. Through the practice of detachment, one can remove the excessive desires of the earthly things and open for ourselves the window towards holiness. “Almsgiving” undoubtedly targets others, and more importantly, includes all the people in the world who are loved by Jesus. Jesus desires us to repay His self-giving love for us by loving others selflessly. Jesus gave us the commandment of loving one another in the Gospel of John, chapter 15, verses 12 to 13: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Whether we would really give up our lives is not the focus, but rather learning the spirit of “self-sacrifice” in order to will the good of others is what our Lord Jesus asks of us.
From these three acts of faith in Lent, we can see that the repentance emphasized is not limited to passive reflection, but rather a bottom up and inside out conversion process, which begins from the relationship with ourselves and with God, and then extends to all those around us.
Therefore, this year, our Lenten retreat emphasizes that we should complement our continuous meditation and reflection with acts of love. Meditation and reflection help us adjust our intention and how we perform our acts of love, and the experiences and fruits of our acts of love in turn feed and nourish our meditation and prayers and become our offerings.
Our acts of love help enhance our self-knowledge and the knowledge of God and His deeds. Because through our humble offering, we can witness the miracle of the “multiplication of loaves” performed by our Lord Jesus. These experiences play a pivotal role in strengthening our virtues of faith and hope!
On Day 1 of our retreat, the concept of the “Five-Loaves-and-Two-Fishes Moments” (5L2F Moments) was introduced to remind us that our lives are filled with opportunities for our Lord Jesus to perform miracles, on which depend our five-loaves-and-two-fishes offerings. Let us not underestimate our 5L2F acts of love which could make a difference and have positive impacts on others’ lives. Our humble little “candle flame” can be miraculously multiplied through our Lord Jesus and spread widely without our knowing!
“Do ordinary things with extraordinary love!” is a famous quote from St. Mother Teresa. Let us take this as our motto of our acts of love in this Lent!
What reminder and invitation Lord Jesus Christ has given you through the foreshadowing of the Last Judgment in today’s Gospel?
Do you believe in the power of the 5L2F moments? How would you like to put it into practice in this Lent?
“Do ordinary things with extraordinary love!” In your prayer, please listen to the message God has for you through this famous quote from St. Mother Teresa.
Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for reminding me again the core of my faith through the foreshadowing of the Last Judgment in today’s Gospel. It reminds me that my faith should not be a matter of head knowledge, nor stay on a personal spiritual level. Enlighten me that in order to develop an intimate relationship with You, I cannot just “mind my own business”, but have to build relationships with others through acts of love. Please guide me, in this Lent, to seize every opportunity to offer my five loaves and two fishes. Lord! Please accompany me and work through me whatever finds pleasing to our heavenly Father.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
The Collection of The “5L2F moment” Acts of Love
Fountain of Love and Life intends to collect the acts of love from the Farmers of Hearts all over the world and offer them as spiritual bouquets to our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us on the Cross.
We encourage you to respond to our invitation and share with us the fruits of your “5L2F Moments” acts of love. We will offer all the fruits of the charitable acts collected in this Lent to our Heavenly Father in the solemn mass of Easter, in return for the grace of our Lord Jesus who sacrificed His life to redeem us! Please visit lent.fll.cc/action and share with us your “5L2F Moments” acts of love.