Fortieth Friday of The Great Lent I Naalpathaam Velliyazhcha

Published by Jacob P Varghese on

We started our Journey to the Promised Land, forty days ago. Forty days ago, we embarked on a Grand Pilgrimage, intending to return and regain the lost Paradise and all its Glory. On the 40th day of the Great Lent which is always a Friday, our Holy Church commemorates the temptation of Jesus, one-on-one encounter between Jesus and the fallen angel Satan and Jesus’ triumph over Satan. 

The holy season of Great Lent, for Christians is a period par-excellence, for fasting, prayer and repentance. The Teutonic word ‘Lent’ which we employ to designate the forty days fasting period preceding Holy Week originally meant the spring season. Since the Anglo-Saxon period, it has been used to translate ‘Quadragesima’, meaning the fortieth day.

Great Lent is an imitation of the life of Christ. I always felt that the Great Lent is wonderful gift that Christ and Church has bestowed upon us. During the time of when He fasted, Christ was tempted and triumphed. The faithful are also tested. At Cana, we were spiritually transformed only because our Lord Jesus Christ was with us and began our journey, with Christ to the Cross of Calvary.

Great Lent, is the season of our spiritual, soul-searching and physical preparation preceding, the glorious Resurrection of our Lord. Forty Days was time period for reflection and a rehearsal before Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was a period of preparation and probation. It was a period of Testing, Trials and Temptations. It was a period of revival, renewal, renunciation and repentance. It was a time to rewind, to rethink, to remember, to remind and to retrospect.  It was a period of deep reflection into our inner self, repentance, confession and prayer, in view of our co-suffering the Passion of our Lord, and His death but also of the joyous anticipation of His Resurrection.  Great Lent is not a season of morbidity and gloominess, but a time of joyfulness and purification. ‘Anoint our faces, cleanse our bodies as we cleanse our souls.

This period was a time to

Go in, peep in, look into ourselves, giving up our old ways aimed at a conversion and a change over through penance. 

Go up, gaze upwards, through a more intense prayer life, with pure heart and sin free hands! 

Go out, open your hands, through almsgiving or an active life of charity to live out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. 

Therefore, let us strive to realize that Lent is a great Gift from the hands and the loving Heart of the Lord Jesus to His Church, and to every one of us. With open hearts, let us recognize the gift, receive the gift, and live the gift.

As we close of our 40 days of Fast with Jesus in the wilderness and we are moving into join His Passion to the Cross. Our Lord fasted forty days for our sake and He gave us an armour with which we can defeat the wicked Adversary who, at the beginning, caused our fall by eating and deprived us of our inheritance.

When we see the number forty used to denote time in the Bible, we are being told that something extraordinary and definitive is happening.

The Old Testament is punctuated and peppered with numerous other 40 days. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights (Gen 7: 4), and God cleaned the earth clean of evil,  marking the destruction of the known earth and a new beginning for mankind, thus setting Noah and his family on the path of Salvation. Moses was on Mount Sinai, fasting and praying, in the presence of the LORD on two occasions for 40 days and 40 nights (Ex 24: 18, Ex.  34: 28), coming down with the Ten Commandments to guide the Israelites on the path of Salvation. He in fact, interceded on behalf of and for Israel, prostrating before the LORD (Deut. 9: 18, 25). Israel wandered 40 years (Num 14: 33), finally reached the Promised Land, after Israel spied out the land 40 days (Num 13: 25). Prophet Elijah’s fasted for 40 days and 40 nights journey (1 Kings 19: 8) to Horeb, with the energy of the meal delivered by the angel, to the presence of the LORD. Prophet Ezekiel lay on his right side, to bear the punishment of Israel, for 40 days to symbolize the 40 years of Judah’s transgression (Ez. 4: 6). Jonah gave the people of Nineveh 40 days to repent (Jonah 4: 3). Jesus Fasted and prayed 40 days and was tempted by the Devil (Matt 4:2), only to defeat and gain triumph over Satan. Jesus was with His disciples, for 40 days speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, Acts 1: 2.

By observing the 40 days of Lent, we replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. We imitate the 40 days fast, the Ninevites to whom God postpones the destruction by 40 days giving the city time to repent, and finally their rigorous fast, to change the LORD’s fury and anger into compassion and mercy. During this period many people engage in fasting and practice moderation or self-denial in order to focus on repentance and consecrating oneself to God.

~ “We keep a fast that the Lord has kept – the holy, both by its name and its essence, Lent – to purify ourselves and to please God, as if we gave Him the tithe from every year of our life” (St. Simeon the New Theologian). 

Blessed are those who pleased Him, by fasting and who carry spiritual gifts for the day of the Resurrection. They will receive their reward with those who loved Him.


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