Renewal and New Life

One of the great joys of studying and working at the Faculty of Theology is the opportunity to share our faith, whether it’s during our weekly liturgies, class discussions, impromptu chats springing up in the student lounge or at one of our social events.

As part of our collective Lenten journey, we are offering seasonal reflections written by our students and professors as a way to include the broader community in the life of the Faculty.

 Our Ash Wednesday reflection comes from Nick Murphy,  a teacher from Liverpool, England, who is in his first year of course work toward a Master of Religious Education degree.

Joel 2.12-18
2 Corinthians 5.20-6.2
Matthew 6.1-6, 16-18

As we enter the season of Lent, let the words of the Prophet Joel be present in our thoughts and actions: ‘Return to me with all your heart.’ Ash Wednesday reminds us of our mortality and how thoroughly human we are. It is a reminder that we should orient ourselves toward God and away from sin.

The word Lent comes from the Old English term lencten, which means ‘springtime’, and links to its connotations with new life and renewal.  In this light, for many, Lent is a time to re-connect: a time for reflection, sacrifice, and self-discipline. Whilst it is common during Lent to focus on abstinence and the things we should not do, let us not forget the things that we ought to do.

Matthew’s Gospel addresses fasting, but it also addresses almsgiving and prayer, and so let us be mindful of the good we can do during Lent. The key message of Matthew’s Gospel is that these actions should be focussed toward God rather than toward recognition from others. To ‘return to God with all your heart’ is to not only turn away from sin, but to free yourself from desiring recognition that is outside of God. It is easy to find materialistic or superficial satisfaction in good deeds that can orient our motivation to complete them away from salvation.  Therefore, let us approach this Lenten season with grace and humility to discover our vocation as Christians and return to God with all of our hearts.