Keep on walking

Christmas with its feast and celebrations is well in the past and we enter the uncertain month of February. Will winter continue with ice and snow, or will the first signs of spring appear?

We only know that the formidable season of Lent will begin, formidable because we often make it so with even non-Christians asking, ‘what are you going to give up for Lent?’ But Christians should know the spiritual life does not work that way: it is not a matter of stop and go but a steady walking forward as St Augustine teaches us, from good to better. In fact we do not learn much from Mark’s Gospel about fasting.

Jesus was accused by the Pharisees of eating and drinking in the wrong company. This comes after the calling of Matthew, a tax-collector, to be an apostle. Did his fellow tax-collectors give him a farewell dinner and was Jesus there to support him? Then back on the road to continue the hard preaching of the kingdom of God and an austere life.

Perhaps Shrove Tuesday is like that for Christians, a final feast and the forty days of Lent without singing Alleluia until Easter and keeping ears open so that without the noise of radio and television we may listen to the voice of God speaking to us and may find time to speak to him.

St Augustine knew how easy it was to stray off the road and warns us to keep walking toward our heavenly Father. That should be our Lenten resolution.