This year’s Lenten Campaign was launched by the Form 5 Confirmation class in the form of a skit at the evening Masses on Ash Wednesday. This year’s diocesan theme for Lent is “Anywhere With Jesus”. The skit illustrated the many ways in which kindness can be expended to people anywhere. Some situations enacted included paying for groceries for someone at the Supermarket, offering food to beggars and water to the thirsty, stopping someone from bullying, reconciling a misunderstanding between spouses as well as helping return a lost wallet and apprehending a thief. All 24 students of the class were involved and emphasized the fact that Jesus can be always there in every situation. Therefore, by being a Jesus to all we meet, we are showing others that we can be “Anywhere With Jesus”. The students also challenged the audience with the poster “Kindness is Contagious” to make this slogan come true by passing on acts of mercy during this period of Lent. The skit can be viewed over Facebook at Facebook
Fr Martin Arlando, parish priest of CDM, Penang began his homily for Ash Wednesday by relating a story told by the 19th Century Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard regarding the existentialism of man in the manifestation of God. In this story, a king was seeking for someone to be his queen. He spied on a pleasant girl who he fell instantly in love. He then pondered on the many ways in which he could make this woman his bride and queen. He could issue a decree forcing her to marry him, he could approach her dressed in his regal robes and show of his riches and ask for her hand. But he would always doubt if she was really in love in him. After some deliberation, he decided that he would dress as a peasant and work in the village farm and then woo her. This he did and eventually won her hand in marriage. This is exactly what God has done to win humankind to Himself by sending his only son to reconcile the world with Himself.
Fr Martin said we can respond to God’s call in four ways. The first way was to identify our sins and the instances where we can do better. To know one’s weaknesses and where we were not so Christian in words and in deeds. The second is to focus on Jesus to put on righteousness with faith and a cloak of zeal.
The third is to be reconciled with God and with one another. This is not easy as it involves personal pride and sin. But this is important as it brings peace and allows us to be united with Christ and to be washed and forgiven. Lastly, we cannot be just stagnant receptacles but ambassadors of God’s message in the gospels. To put the foolishness of the world on display by our examples of good deeds. He mentioned an example of a poor village in India where 18 women had come together to form a cooperative. They purchased eight cows and a goat and had taken care of the animals such as to be able to gain returns which they used to help the community by obtaining school supplies, garden seeds and other such needs of the community. Fr Martin emphasized that this should be our focus to participate in God’s way in our whole life of living and speaking. He questioned if we are willing to truly evaluate how we are living our lives to develop a hopeful relationship with God. Today, on Ash Wednesday with ashes placed on our foreheads we have been asked to turn away from sin and turn towards God by way of fasting, good deeds and prayer. We also seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary to inspire us with her example of self-giving, penance and denial so as to help us imitate and mirror Christ in these ways to others.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
8th March 2019.