M. Jolaine Szymkowiak
When I was in grade school, as the season of Lent would draw near each year, the children in my primarily Catholic community would start asking what others had “given up for Lent.” I always thought it such a strange custom. I had been raised in a protestant home and giving up something for Lent, especially since the family income was stretched for the necessities as it was, giving up something that would not be attainable anyway seemed so ridiculous. We had what we needed and sometimes not much more. Giving up chocolates or candy, ice cream, potato chips, soda pop, Saturday movies, seemed too trivial for the season that was at hand.
As I grew older a truer meaning of the season came about. Along with church teaching, the dictionary states Penitence, as implying sorrow over having sinned or done wrong, but it is still too negative for me. Must it be? Yes, we are to be penitent, however, that should be an every day thing, asking forgiveness for the wrongs done during the day. What can we do to make Lent special besides giving up something and still be penitent in nature?
I agree change is needed, however, must we always reflect on what is wrong with us even after we have repented and asked forgiveness? If change for the better is needed, repentance of those wrongs is needed, then look forward. Jesus looked forward, always moved forward for Jerusalem and what was coming, good and bad. I too must look forward to what is coming and do what I can to make something good of the time spent at this particular season and also for my life. This should be a time of reflection, a time of repentance, a time of release, a time of going forward to something new and better. A change, if you will, of conscience and will, and the 40 days of Lent allow me the time to form new habits, new ways of doing things, that are not only better for myself but is to the betterment of those around me. And for those of you who think this is going too far the other way, think of it as giving up a bad habit for a good one. Does that make it easier to understand?
Titus, a young man and helpful companion during Paul’s ministry, is the one who accompanied Paul to Jerusalem: acceptance of Titus, who was a Gentile, as a Christian without circumcision was crucial to Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. Titus worked with Paul in Ephesus, and Corinth and at the time of Paul’s first release from Roman prison Titus met him at Nicopolis in Greece. Titus went on to Dalmatia (modern Yugoslavia) and when this letter was writte …