The season of Lent is upon us next week. The relatively early Easter means that the gap between Christmas and Ash Wednesday is rather short. Many of us may have not even thought about how we will observe the coming penitential season.
There is a little clue for us in today's Gospel. We hear how Jesus, after an intensive time of healing the people, takes himself off to the hills to commune with his Father. Perhaps this is how we should be spending Lent; taking extra time in prayer, spending more time alone with the Father.
As we prepare to observe the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and alms-giving, it is essential that we do not separate them from their focus which is the person of Jesus and the Gospel he brings. If we make our penances the focus in their own right, we will not produce the spiritual fruits we desire.
It is only by making Christ the centre of our Lenten observance that we will be ultimately overwhelmed by graces.
Father Alex McAllister