This years’ Lenten season has just begun. A 40-days special period in the Church’s calendar when Christians, who seek a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, choose to journey with him in the wilderness. Christ suffered hunger, thirstiness, loneliness, slander, and persecution in this wilderness. Above all, he reflected continuously on his upcoming passion and death on the cross during this time. He prayed relentlessly that God’s will be done. In all these, Christ did not complain or curse. Instead, he gave up everything and embraced his sufferings for the greater glory of God and the redemption of sinful humanity.
By giving up everything, Jesus received everything from the Father. These include the salvation of the broken human race whom he condescended to their likeness, suffered for, and died to redeem.
During his ministry on earth with his disciples, Jesus constantly emphasized the need to live a detached life. He preached this in both words and actions. Attachment to the things of this world, he believes, is an obstacle to the salvation that he (Christ) suffered and died on the Cross to gain for humanity. There is no mention of Jesus owning houses, vehicles, electronics, gadgets, or similar things throughout the gospels. No one ever told of Jesus going on vacation with his parents or friends. And he commanded large followership, but Jesus never abused his power or used it for his selfish interests.
While he does not condemn material things, Jesus strongly urges us to live our lives detached from them. Because when we are detached from our earthly possessions, skills, and powers, we are better able to use them for the glory of God and the good of humanity. We read in the gospels about Jesus feeding groups of people on various occasions, hanging out with strangers, the poor, and sick people. Jesus preached love and repentance to his friends and enemies, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the commoners alike.
Jesus, on one occasion, while with his disciples, received a rich man who came to him and explained how he had lived an upright life since his youth. Jesus commended the rich man and asked him to do one more thing. The one more thing was to detach himself from his earthly possessions and ratify his relationship with God. Unfortunately, that was too much for the rich man.
Moved by the incident, Peter reminded Jesus of how they (the disciples) have given up everything to follow him (Jesus). Jesus assured Peter that they, who have left everything to follow him, will not regret it.
As Christians, this Lent is another privileged opportunity to enter the wilderness with Christ! Peter and his fellow disciples entered the wilderness by giving up family and material possessions to closely follow Christ. While we may not give up family and possessions the same way they did, there are too many ways to accomplish this goal. We can give up or take up things as sacrificial ways of following Christ more closely. When we give or take something up this Lent, let us remember to do those with sincere intentions to detach ourselves from our excessive attachments to the things of this world. May this Lenten season bring us closer to Jesus Christ in word and action. Amen.