On the first Lenten Sunday it was suggested that our Lenten activities could be focused on becoming very positive and creative if we took specific steps to make a contribution to the safeguarding of our environment. Did some of you begin to fear that I was ‘losing it’?

Well, in recent weeks the ecclesiastical secret police tell me that Pope Francis has, on two occasions, made specific comments regarding our obligations to the environment. These are brought together as one: “God always forgives, man sometimes, but nature never …. protecting creation is not just a green’s thing, it is a Christian duty …. we are custodians, not masters.”

So, which is a more beneficial, productive, and creative Lenten penance? To give-up alcohol or organize and participate in a community effort of picking up litter from a local ‘eyesore’? This would be especially penitential if, for example, it involved us forfeiting a sport’s final of our favourite team or tennis star?!

We really need to broaden our approach to Lent and our own personal endeavours ….. to make it all much more community orientated. Take a good look at OUR OLD TESTAMENT READING [CHRONICLES 36: 14 – 16. 19 – 23]. There we read: “the Lord has charged me to build … the Lord his God be with him, Let him go up.” We must become REAL during Lent. It is of little, if any value, if all we do is merely hone our egos to prove that we are able to ‘give up’. We have to BUILD – not merely downsize or renovate. We have to go up into Lent, become involved with it, and not merely live in it. This is why I favour the ‘doing’ approach – as opposed to the ‘not doing’! How on earth do you become involved with ‘not doing’ something? Too often our Lenten penances can become little more than an ego trip?!

If we take a moment to reflect on the sentiments expressed in TODAY’S PSALM [137 or 136] we need to discern that the Lenten Season should not find us sitting on foreign soil! How could we sing the song of the Lord on foreign soil? … they asked us, our captors, for songs, our oppressors for joy. Are we our own captors? What we need to remember is that we are not waiting for the Easter Event. Easter has already happened. We are being challenged to prepare ourselves for the celebration of a reality which is already with us. In this preparation we should remember that we are, by nature, DOERS – and the benefits of an involvement in doing stays with us, while not doing actually captures us on foreign soil. {here we are reminded of what Saint James [1: 22 – 25] tells us – “be doers of the word, and not hearers only.”

Perhaps it is our NEW TESTAMENT EXTRACT [EPHESIANS 2: 4 – 10] which provides us with a deeper understanding and appreciation of our Christian values and heritage? Paul reminds us that our God has “made us alive with Christ.” The apostle continues that this life with Christ “is the gift of God … created for good works.” Now, all good works require an honest degree of involvement of action, and does not call us merely to go through the motions. In other words, as has been noted already, the Lenten challenge is for us to become more real, more active, more involved …. GET REAL! Lent reminds us of the LIFE IN CHRIST which our God has given to, shared with, us.

So, hear TODAY’S GOSPEL [JOHN 3: 14 – 21]. God’s purpose is that “THE WORLD might be saved …. he who DOES … clearly seen … his deeds have been wrought in God”