Ash Wednesday: Christians urged to emulate Jesus as Lent starts 

A Christian faithful gets the symbol of the cross marked with ash on her forehead during a past celebration of Ash Wednesday. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • On this day, Christians attend Mass/Service and religious leaders draw the sign of a cross with ashes onto their foreheads

Christians have been called upon to deeply reflect about their spiritual well-being as they today start fasting for 40 days (Lent) ahead of Easter celebrations.

Today is Ash Wednesday which in the Christian faith is the first day of Lent occurring six-and-a half weeks before Easter. 

On this day, Christians attend Mass/Service and religious leaders draw the sign of a cross with ashes onto their foreheads.

“People should take advantage of this period to renew themselves spiritually, morally, to grow in faith and to strengthen their belief in Jesus and in God so that we can have a better relationship with our creator but also one another,” Fr Odii said by telephone yesterday.

Lent is a season of spiritual preparation where many Christians fast and repent ahead of Easter. 

The period is meant to identify the faithful with Jesus Christ. In the Bible, ashes are a symbol of repentance and death. 

Thus, observing Ash Wednesday at the start of the Lenten season represents one’s repentance from sin as well as the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. The ash sets followers free from sin and death.

In some religions, some Christians give up a bad habit, such as smoking, watching TV, swearing, or a food or drink.

Others take on a Lenten discipline of reading the Bible and praying.

The 40-day period is attributed to two episodes of spiritual testing in the Bible which are the 40 years of wilderness wanderings by the Israelites after they left Egypt (Numbers 33:38 and Deuteronomy 1:3) and the Temptation of Jesus  after he spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness ( Mathew 4:1-11; Mark  1:12-13;  Luke 4:1-13).

Don’ts of lent

λ Don’t use Lent as a weight loss regimen

λ Don’t focus solely on self: We are called to improve our relationship with God during Lent. 

λDon’t fail to convert your intentions into a positive outcomes: Simply doing without isn’t a worthy goal. 

λDon’t simply do without for the sake of doing without: We need to add more God into our lives. 

λDon’t make your Lenten intentions something temporary.