Lent is a reminder to Christians that they do not have it all together and still require a great deal before fulfilling their destiny.
“It is a time which is characterised by compassion, instead of self-righteousness. It is not a time to prove ourselves to God or to our neighbour. It is rather a time for stocktaking, a time to re-examine the stuff of which we are made,” Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau said in his Lenten message to the faithful. The Bishop shared his audio reflection with Catholic News via WhatsApp.
Lent, he said, is a time for self-critique, aptly expressed in the Gospel of Luke 6:36–38 in which Jesus instructs His followers: “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge and you will not be judged yourselves. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned….”
Bishop Malzaire believed if Christians are truthful, they will find themselves “ashamed” of what was lurking in their hearts—hatred, bitterness, calumny, greed, selfishness, inordinate passions, the desires to kill, steal and destroy, and envy.
Commenting on this, he made reference to Joel 2:13 which speaks of rendering hearts and not garments.
He explained that repentance is not a question of how we look but what we allow to happen in our hearts through self-abasement. He continued, “God has no need of our proof. He simply wants us to be truthful, to be genuine, to be repentant, to be humble…. The entire season of Lent challenges us to profitably use the tools that will help us on our journey to sanctity.”
Bishop Malzaire then summed up the importance of practising a three-pronged defence against sin through fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Fasting, he believed requires some restraint in choosing something that will cause discomfort or inconvenience.
“If we succeed in doing so, it can help us live a more disciplined and productive life even beyond Easter,” he said. Prayer, Bishop Malzaire said is more than uttering “nice words” to God. Rather, it is the food of the soul. Without it, the soul starves to death.
Of almsgiving, the Bishop maintained that no one is too poor to give. The purpose of almsgiving is to help another person live a “more human life”. He observed while almsgiving can be “especially difficult” when it includes persons with whom we are not very “comfortable” and whom we would rather not entertain “…this is precisely the challenge of Christianity. This is the challenge of Lent.”