5th Character in our Lenten Journey

We are more than halfway through Lent and perhaps some may look back on the past few weeks and regret that they did not stick to what they had promised themselves to do at the beginning of this important time. Some may have tried to cut back on food, others may have read a book with spiritual reflections, or even followed some spiritual exercises online. We all know that – as what happens with New year resolutions – it is not always easy to keep the promises we make when we have not yet begun the journey, and so we have not yet encountered the difficulties and obstacles which we can find along the road.

As parents, this Lent may have had different, and perhaps even greater, obstacles than usual. Who has been quarantined has to see how to keep the children occupied at home for a full fortnight. Those with Covid have to deal with both physical and mental difficulties, such as fear and anxiety. In the past few days, we once again have found ourselves again with our kitchens and living rooms as an extension of the school, where the younger the children, the more attention and time is needed with them to help them in their needs of this online school experience.

This week the character being presented to us is that of the Centurion – a pagan man who, because of his work, was on Golgotha and therefore saw Jesus die. Most likely he was the person assigned to see that everything was done properly. Many followers of Jesus, for one reason or another, were not there, but this Centurion happened to be there for this moment that was to change the history of mankind. In fact, this moment also had to change his own life because, when he saw Jesus die, and how he died, he felt he had to declare that Jesus is the true Son of God (Mark 15:39).

Many times, as parents, we can see work as something that distracts us from our life as Christians because work takes up so much time of our lives and apart from time, it also takes a lot of energy. Sometimes we see the difference between our spiritual life as it was when we were younger and with fewer ties, and now, that we have to cope with a thousand things at once. However, the story of the Centurion shows that even work can be an opportunity of grace, an opportunity to see Jesus in those around us, an opportunity to do ‘small things with great love’ as Mother Teresa used to say.  That which makes our work hard can also be turned into a sacrifice and an offering to God, before whom it is worth as much as the greatest request or fast.

May during this week we try to look at our work, both at home and other work outside the home, not so much as something that has hindered us from the life of our faith, but as something that can continue to unite us with the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ that we celebrate during these holy days of Lent and Easter.

This week you can also pray the Via Matris together as a family. Follow the steps here.

Jesus was a Jewish man, and the Jewish people were ruled by the Roman Empire. Pilate, the Roman governor condemned Jesus to death due to the insistence of the Jewish leaders, since they were losing their popularity because of Jesus. Thus, Pilate sent his soldiers led by a centurion to crucify Jesus.

In Capernaum, a centurion asked Jesus to save his servant, and he sent his friend to ask Jesus only to give him words to heal the servant. Jesus was amazed by his faith.

A centurion had to be a brave and strong soldier, and always ready to accomplish the orders he receives. He was also a strict and disciplined commander of some one hundred soldiers in the Roman Empire.

In the Gospel of John, this particular centurion says a very important phrase; soon after he pierced the side of our Lord with his lance, he exclaimed that Jesus was truly the Son of God. For sure, he was moved by the merciful and forgiving response of Jesus to the injustice that he was suffering at the hands of his own people whom he truly loved.

We too, as children, can imitate Jesus by showing mercy to others in our day-to-day experiences. If someone has been unkind to me, I will not treat him or her badly in return; instead, I do something nice to them. I can also offer my forgiveness before someone who has wronged me asks for it. There are many other ways by which we can show our mercy to others; can you think of any other examples?

While drawing the picture of the centurion, we think of all workers: we pray that they too, like the centurion in the Gospel, meet with Jesus while working.

This is the fifth figure from Jesus’ Passion that we are discussing during this Lent. Visit the site again next week to learn about other figures, and by the end of Lent you would have the entire scene of Jesus’ crucifixion!

Lent with Father John

Lent with Brother Francis

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For more videos about the Lenten season, please click here.