Jesus and the three S’s of Lent

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Recently, I was asked to give a short reflection to high school students at the Aquinas Academy in Pittsburgh, PA. The goal was to help them (and me) understand Lent better, and particularly, why we need to live a spirit of sacrifice during this holy time. I enjoyed the experience of putting the talks together (the last time I was in a high school class room was in 1983, when I attended high school). I would like to summarize the basic outline of the talk here.

Focus on the Person of Jesus, and try to see how we can be more aware of the need for Jesus in our lives, now and always. I am firmly convinced that if we are not aware of needing someone or something, then that person or thing will soon lose relevance for us. We simply don’t think much about the things and persons we don’t need.

Back to Lent. I think there are three identifiable areas of basic human needs that can be identified (for lack of another term) as the Three S’s: satisfaction; status; and security. For each person, those needs will be a little different. Some examples in each of the areas are:

  • satisfaction: bodily pleasures; food; and entertainment
  • status: acceptance and popularity; success; and appreciation
  • security: physical safety; being remembered and cared for in the future

All of these needs are good, however, they can be exaggerated, and if not brought under control, can cloud the larger vision of who we are: children of God, infinitely loved and cared for by God. In fact, the devil tempted Jesus in the desert by anticipating the Lord would seek these needs: bread (satisfying hunger); military and political rule (status); and angelic “bunjee support” if he would jump from the Temple (security). During Lent, the Church asks us to consider removing (through self-denial) some S’s so that we can see that Jesus fulfills all needs. Once purified from some of these satisfactions, we can see more clearly how much we need Jesus, and how close he is to each of us. May we continue to see Jesus more clearly during this sanctified time! Why not get as excited about needing Jesus as the fictional character of The Who’s Tommy got about discovering the real people around him? (proviso: don’t watch if you’ve given up the “S” of rock music for Lent!)

Listening to you I get the music. Gazing at you I get the heat. Following you I climb the mountain. I get excitement at your feet. Right behind you I see the millions. On you I see the glory. From you I get opinions. From you I get the story…

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