LENT: A journey with and to Jesus

LENT: A Journey with and to Jesus (who is God, Personal, and Alive!)

Every Lent Catholics take up prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in order to deepen and live out their faith more intentionally, specifically their faith in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. These Lenten practices help the faithful recognise their dependence on God and helps prepare for the greatest gift of all - new life in Jesus Christ.

The journey of Lent is one of deepening encounter, to further assimilate the core message of the Gospel; “In Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy.”[1] Or as Pope Francis puts it: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.”[2] A Catholic’s faith is not just about adopting a worldview, rather, it is centred on a relationship with God and faith in the life and promises of the person of Jesus.

But how do you bring someone to faith in Jesus Christ? This is a question we should have a ready-made answer for. Whatever our response, we must emphasize that Jesus Christ is God, that he is personal, and that he is alive. We need to introduce people to faith not as a vague concept or doctrine but rather as a profound and personal meeting with Jesus.[3]

Yes, we desire people to know the teachings of the faith, but primarily we desire people to encounter Jesus and enter into a relationship with him because, ultimately, “the faith has not been transmitted unless the Person and the relationship at the centre of the faith have been transmitted.”[4]

Although the events of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection occurred in history, the grace and power of the Resurrection transcends history and can be encountered and experienced by us today some 2000yrs later.

Pope Francis stresses this crucial point:

“Christ is alive! We need to keep reminding ourselves of this, because we can risk seeing Jesus Christ simply as a fine model from the distant past, as a memory, as someone who saved us two thousand years ago. But that would be of no use to us: it would leave us unchanged, it would not set us free. The one who fills us with his grace, the one who liberates us, transforms us, heals and consoles us is someone fully alive. He is the Christ, risen from the dead...”[5]

More than beautiful teachings, Christ offers us his very self. He is a living person, and we can have a real relationship with him. We can’t have a relationship with reason, deductive arguments, a concept, or an idea. But we can have a relationship with a personal and living God.

This Lent let us remember that faith is not about ticking moral or doctrinal boxes but walking with Jesus to assimilate the Gospel more fully into our lives. Giving up chocolates is great, but ultimately pointless as a Lenten practice if it does not make us contemplate or draw us closer to the living God. Within our own hearts let us remember to truly “prepare the way for the Lord” (Is 40:3). Let us prepare to meet the resurrected Jesus who offers new life to all without exception.

BIO: Nathan Costin is the Campus Ministry Manager at ACU and is based on the Melbourne Campus. Nathan enjoys eating ice-cream with his wife, playing backyard cricket with his sons, and delighting in his baby daughter. He also loves sharing the mission of ACU with Staff and Students.

[1] St Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 27.
[2] Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 164.
[3] See John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 18.
[4] Sherry Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2012), 53.
[5] Pope Francis, Christus Vivit, no. 124.

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