The Point (Banjul)

Gambia: Christians Begin the Forty Days of Lent

opinion

Wednesday, 13th February has been marked as Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of lent.

During this season, Christians devote themselves to fasting, prayer, almsgiving and abstinence. Fasting means reduction of the amount of food that is taken during the day as a way of imitating Jesus. Prayer is the act of worship to call on God in his mercy and compassion. Almsgiving means sharing your goods with the less fortunate and poor. In Matt. 6:1-6 and 16 - 18, Jesus fasted for forty days.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and during this day Christian's avail of the opportunity to go to Church and celebrate the mercy and Compassion of God. As a sign of sorrow for sins committed, Christians mark themselves with ashes on their foreheads. The priest who signs them with ashes reminds them of their unworthiness in these, words: "Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return".

Everything that Christians do during lent is done out of sorrow for sin and the willingness to change and be converted in heart and conduct of their lives to turn to God. They are to be touched by repentance in their hearts. Any action done without the purpose of effecting within the Christian heart, a lasting repentance is not in line with the spirit of lent. On many occasions, it is the eagerness to satisfy the body and its cravings that leads to the offence against God.

The prayers, fasting and penance that is done during lent is done in union with the Lord Jesus. In imitating Jesus who fasted and was tempted but did not sin the Christian believer is restored in the body to the original dignity with which God created the body. The Christian prayer in union with Jesus is for Him to render his grace to all who observe the Lenten season so that they may experience conversion.

It is therefore necessarily that as we devote ourselves to the Lenten season, we do it with sincerity and hearts dedicated to God. We do not indulge ourselves to doing things and observing fasting, prayer and penance for people to see and know that we are doing things. Christ in his words admonishes us:

"Be careful not to parade you good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your father in heaven" (Mathew 6:1).

May we wish each other a happy and prayerful Lenten season. May God grant us all the blessings of his compassion and mercy and answer our prayers.

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