A priest who was working in an inner city parish walked down the street one evening on his way home.
A young man came out from the alley behind him and poked a knife against his back. “Give me your money,” the young man said.
The priest opened his jacket and reached into an inner pocket to remove his wallet, exposing his clerical collar. “Oh, I’m sorry, Father,” said the young man, “I didn’t see your collar. I don’t want your money.”
Trembling from the scare, the priest removed a cigar from his shirt pocket and offered it to the young man. “Here,” he said. “Have a cigar.”
“Oh, no, I can’t do that,” the young man replied, “I gave up smoking for Lent.”
We have arrived at the season of Lent, that period of the church year in which people figure we are supposed to give something up and feel miserable. At least that is the popular understanding of Lent.
The word “Lent” originally meant “springtime,” not misery. The Lenten observance has changed over the centuries. The early church celebrated Lent for only a few days before Easter.
Over time, the length of the season grew until it was several weeks long. In the seventh century, the church set the period of Lent at forty days (excluding Sundays) in order to remind people of the duration of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.
The thief saw Lent as a time of misery and gave up smoking. He failed to see Lent as springtime, since he was still robbing people.
How is this Lent a springtime for YOU as YOU feel new life within YOU?
YOU CAN TRY TO RUN AWAY FROM GOD, OR YOU CAN RUN TO GOD. BETTER YET, YOU CAN RUN WITH GOD!