Lent is a time of preparation for Holy Week and for the celebration of the Death and Resurrection of the Lord. The gospel readings of the six Sundays focus on key events or happenings in the life of Jesus, the saviour of humankind.
On the first Sunday there is an account of the temptations experienced by Jesus in the desert. This was an occasion for him to confirm his commitment to the mission given by the Father and that he was not going to be deviated from that purpose (Mt 4: 1-11). Jesus is faithful to his mission.
On the second Sunday there is a description of the Transfiguration. Peter, James and John saw Jesus transfigured before them. Even though they did not quite understand what was happening they realized that Jesus was not just another prophet (Mt 17: 1-9). Jesus is unique in the eyes of God.
On the third Sunday we read about the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. This is a fascinating description of how Jesus dialogued with people. He reveals himself to be the Messiah and promises her eternal life. (John 4: 5-42). Jesus is a missionary.
On the fourth Sunday Jesus gives the gift of sight to the man born blind and reveals to him that he is the Messiah. This Sunday is referred to as Laetare Sunday, that is, “Rejoice Sunday”, because there is an anticipation of the joy that is to be celebrated at Easter time (John 9: 1-41). Jesus is a special healer who brings joy to the lives of people.
On the fifth Sunday we read about Lazarus who had been in the tomb for four days and was raised from the dead by Jesus. Jesus makes an extraordinary claim – ´I am the Resurrection and the Life, if anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live´ (John 11: 1-45). Jesus is the one who guides us to eternal life.
The sixth Sunday is Palm Sunday and this year we read Matthew´s account of the Passion and Death of Jesus. His love for his people and his fidelity to his mission resulted in him being rejected by the authorities and put to death (Matthew 26: 14 – 27, 66). Jesus was willing to sacrifice his life for our sakes.
It is helpful to think of Lent as an opportunity to renew our faith in Jesus and to follow him more faithfully. This means adjusting the direction of our lives and edging ever closer to the path which the Lord teaches us. We do that by being more attentive to the basics of prayer and practical charity, conversion by any other name.