Pastor’s Corner for the First Sunday of Lent, Year A, by Rev. William (Billy) Davies

At the beginning of Lent, we often hear people talking about the penance they are undertaking for Lent. For many, the penance is all about what they are “giving up for Lent”. For some, it’s chocolate; for others, meat, alcohol, Facebook, and the list goes on and on. But do we ever question why? While it is good to acknowledge that Lent should include penance and sacrifice, we must remember that the giving up or penance is not the aim itself.

 As we begin our Lenten Journey, ask yourself, what is the purpose of my penance? What do I want to achieve this Lent? Is it sacrifice hoping to win the favour or forgiveness from God? Or are we wanting to express our gratitude to Him through the penance we undertake? Or perhaps we have other reasons this Lent.

Here are some thoughts I would like to share with you. Our lent penance and sacrifices give us an opportunity to look at ourselves and our lives – not an examination of conscience as we do before Confession but rather an examination of our lives and lifestylea chance to see how we can become better followers and imitators of Christ.

When we undertake meaningful penance, were acknowledging that we are falling short of our Christian calling and expressing a deep desire to change our lives.

Penance should not be about punishing ourselves; just like when we prune a fruit tree, we are not doing it to punish the tree but to make it more fruitful. So the goal of our penance must be to lead us to a new and better future life. It is a lot easier for us to give up something for Lent than to try to change sinful attitudes or habits. For our penance to bear fruit, it must result in a sincere effort to change our lives.

As Lent gets underway, let us all pray for each other for Gods Grace to be faithful disciples of Jesus, who, in todays Gospel, overcame temptation and was victorious over Satan.

Rev William (Billy) Davies