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PANANABANGAN HOMILY FOR ASH WEDNESDAY 2014

Journey of Prayer, Fasting and Charity

What is Lent?

Ash Wednesday opens the season of Lent. It ends on Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Easter is our mountain peak. If Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith is useless and meaningless.

The Lenten Season is a pilgrimage ascent to the peak of the mountain. Being an upward journey, it is expectedly and inevitably difficult. But our upward journey can become lighter if our focus will be not on the journey but on the destination. The goal of Lent is Christ crucified and risen from the dead.

The Three Paths

The ascent to the mountain of Easter has three mountain paths. The first path is prayer. The second path is sacrifice. The third path is almsgiving or charity.

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart? Humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,” are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.” (CCC, 2559)

Fasting represents a radical dependence on God. When we fast, we are saying that God – not food, water, clothing or shelter – is our most basic need. Apart from Him we can do nothing. Richard Foster says, “No other discipline will reveal what controls us better than fasting.” When we subdue our flesh, whatever is accustomed to being in control will begin to cry out.

Almsgiving is the fruit of fasting. Pope Francis himself teaches us “Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance.”

Lent is Pananabangan Season

Pananabangan is also a jouney of prayer, fasting and charity. The season of Lent is the best season to understand Pananabangan.

Pananabangan is not about PRAYER to receive something. It is about praying humbly with joy because we have been blessed immensely. Pride and Pananabangan are enemies. Humility and stewardship are sisters. Pananabangan cannot grow in a covetous heart.

Pananabangan like Lent is NOT about money; it is about LOVE. There is not earthly reality that has more power to make us lose all perspective than the love of money. In fact, we can lose the spirit of Lent if we only talk about money donations.Pananabangan like Lent is not about DONATIONS; it is about LIVING for others. Pananabangan like Lent is not about OFFERING ENVELOPES. It is about SELF DENIAL so that others can be enriched by our sharing.

Pananabanagan like Lent is a sacrifice. It is a call to dying to our old mindset “the more we get the better we are”. Only the brave can live stewardship pananabangan. The cowards want to live in the old comfort zones of serving mammon not God.

Pananabangan is not about GIVING and expecting something in return; it is about GIVING because we want to return with gratitude what we have received.

Pananabangan like Lent is NOT A GOAL. It is a means to reach the peak of the mountain where we shall meet the risen Christ.

Stewardship Pananabangan is a sure way to holiness.

It is a sure path to God. Pananabangan always leads to new life.

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