The season of Lent reminds us of the abundant, boundless mercy of God. Our focus is not on sin, nor evil, but on God’s great acts to save his people, his intervention in history and in the lives of men and women. We do not dwell on punishment or the wrath of God, but his love for all people and his desire that all be saved. Rather than banish people or separate them from God’s love, Jesus came to call people from death to life.
By our encounter with his love we are able to share the mission of Christ. We too are sent to witness to salvation and life. We do this by learning from Jesus himself. In today’s Gospel he teaches fasting, an exercise not only in penance but also of establishing priorities, abandoning bad habits and developing good ones.
He teaches almsgiving, reminding us of our relationship with others. By living the faith in humility, gentleness and simplicity, we call forth the good that exists in each person, we build bridges of tolerance in an era marked by fundamentalism and religious arrogance, and we raise our prophetic voice of outrage as millions are condemned to live on the margins of society, in poverty, inequality and with shattered dreams.
Finally, he teaches prayer. Without prayer – individual and communal – we cannot claim to have a healthy relationship with God. In prayer we welcome Christ into our hearts and deepen our relationship with him.
Archbishop of Cape Town