Today, Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (9: 22-25), where Jesus says that to be his disciple, you must renounce yourself and take up the cross and follow Him every day.
Fr Paul says our Lenten journey has begun, and these four days of Lent between Ash Wednesday and the first Sunday of Lent set the tone of our Lenten journey in a different way.
Jesus begins 40 days of preparation, he does all of this in the desert. It is a time to prepare for his mission. In the bible, 40 is often the time of preparation in some way, shape or form. If you think of Israel in the desert of Sinai, they wandered in the desert for 40 years before they came to the Promised Land. Elijah spent 40 days in the desert. The disciples spent 40 days in preparation between the Resurrection and the Ascension, preparing them for their mission.
The days between Ash Wednesday and the first Sunday of Lent are necessary because the Sundays of Lent and the day of Resurrection can never be days of Penance. The disciples, we know, have been drastically slow to learn who Jesus is. Fr Paul says we need to understand as our Lenten journey begins, that Jesus is not the warrior king everyone is expecting. Jesus is not the Roman King that will drive out the Roman occupation. Jesus comes as the suffering Messiah – this is the challenge for all of those who have the expectation of the Messiah’s coming.
Mindful of this time of Lent and the purple of preparation that we use, Fr Paul invites us to ask ourselves today ‘What do I want to do, in these 40 days to be closer to God?’.