Why Lent? Why the Cross?

Don’t look now but Ash Wednesday is around the corner. Are you ready for Lent? My guess is that there are some of us still scrambling to decide what it is we will give up for Lent. 

While Lent is seen as a 40-day preparation period for Easter, a little preparation is also helpful for Lent itself, i.e. evaluating our spiritual life, what is keeping us away from God that we might need to sacrifice, etc. Today’s readings serve as a beautiful reminder as to why it is that we even need a season of Lent, especially the First Reading. 

This passage from Genesis picks up right after the Fall of Man, where God confronts Adam and Eve for their actions and starts laying out the consequences: Eve will have pain in childbearing, Adam’s work will be tiresome, they’ll eventually suffer death and they’ve been banished from the Garden of Eden. 

I studied this passage numerous times in college and even spent this past summer teaching my high schoolers about it, so I could break out some heavy theology and start quoting Hebrew to explain the spiritual significance for all of us. I’ll spare you, though. What the entire Chapter 3 of the Book of Genesis really boils down to is this – it is the moment that humanity needed a Savior. 

The journey of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection began in the very moment of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, when they eternally separated themselves (and you and I, by extension) from a life lived in union with God. There was only going to be one way that that eternal union would ever be restored: Jesus Christ had to offer his life as a sacrifice for all mankind and open the gates of Heaven for all of us. 

This is what we remember on Easter Sunday (and every Sunday) when we gather together at Mass. This is what we spend 40 days preparing for, this great moment of our redemption. Together, during Lent, we can reflect on Jesus’ unconditional love for us, shown by His sacrifice, and we are invited to participate in it through our own penance, sacrifices and suffering. 

During these upcoming 40 days and all the days after, I challenge you to examine your life through the light of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. What is holding you back from living in relationship with Him? What sins of yours did He willingly die for, so that you could be with Him in Heaven one day? Identify those things and work to root them out of your life so that, together, one day we may enjoy the reward of eternal life.

Contact the author

Erin is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is passionate about the Lord Jesus, all things college sports and telling stories and she is blessed enough to get paid for all three of her passions as a full-time youth minister and a freelance sports writer. You can catch her on old episodes of the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter @erinmadden2016.

Feature Image Credit: Ahna Ziegler, https://unsplash.com/photos/m7U6Zk-wU4M