When the hour came, Jesus took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until their is fulfillment in the kingdom of God." (Luke 22: 14-16)
At this meal Jesus looked to the past - the night when the Israelites escaped from slavery in Egypt. But he also looked to the future - the great banquet in heaven.
Lent also looks two ways. We look to our mixed past - joys and sorrows, successes and failures, good deeds and sins. But we also look to our future - the great feast of Easter and the assured victory of life over all forms of death.
The ashes on our foreheads our not a gloomy symbol. They express our belief that through death we find life. Dying to old ways of sin brings the peace we've always wanted.
No Lenten penance dead ends in pain. Beneath true penance is always the experience of God's loving presence. Plus the sense that we're moving in a good direction.
We can spend a lot of time on our past, maybe too much. Maybe we should talk to the Lord about our future. For starters, talk about the next 40 days. Don't drift halfheartedly into Lent. Plunge into it.
- Little Black Book, Diocese of Saginaw