I remember in September 2013; we were faced with such dark nights that lasted months although the firing and bombing lasted a week-long. Zamboanga was devastated. Yet, our faith made us lift our eyes through invocations seeking the aid of Our Lady of the Pillar, to lead us to Jesus´ boundless love. Such trust has led most of us Zamboangueños to have mercy and forgiveness for those who abused power and destroyed the weak among us especially those imprisoned, lost a loved one, a home and a future. Yet, no matter how much darkness lies within us and outside of us in the surrounding world, we can believe that “the night is over, and the real light is already shining (1 Jn 2:8). This is the hope that is held strong by those who trust and believe in the good to come as well as in the intervention of the One who is Good. For indeed, He, is “the One” who builds and makes us hope for tomorrows.

True that the pandemic has taught us a hard lesson on care and solidarity. Amid the Covid struggle, we are hooked this time, to the recent Ukraine and Russia War. It makes us aware of the vulnerability of innocent people, the unarmed versus the threats of powerfully braced camps. However, we see how one little candle can light the dark of nights! It is Ukraine´s president who manifested and expressed his hope and determination to be there for his countrymen: “There´ll be long nights but surely, there will be morning.”

Lent is a journey to Christ, that light where our hope resides. We all are invited to come to terms with our inner lives. How much have we engaged or have given time to care for our spiritual growth and grow in our solidarity? Do we value time when alone to communicate with God and others or we simply spend it in leisurely ways? Do we truly care, value time spent to listen to a sibling, a friend or a neighbor who struggle in life? How do we invest our time? What is our strength nowadays? Have we stopped to think on how to tame our wants, greed, self-centeredness, useless desires, and anxieties?

Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke 4:1-13, was tempted, but never subdued to the tempter. Instead, he said: «worship the Lord your God and serve only Him». He manifested the way to confront the might of this world, in humility and firmness in His trust in the Father´s love. It inspires and calls us for a time to strengthen our prayer life, to be filled with a will to find God in our lives. Human as we are, we can be inclined to failure and frustration from our desire to change.  Hence, we can overcome obstacles if we prepare ourselves to confront them. That, despite of being tempted to be sunk in our whims, vices, and individualistic attitudes, we start to consider in not giving in! Rather, strive to wear in our hearts “new lenses” of compassion and honestly do good in our daily lives, what benefits our neighbors, our people, and the planet.

Lent is a gracious time, a time to mend, to build bridges of hope, to change for the better. Jesus, too, experienced these in His time, “being human” in his neighborhood, in Nazareth and in places he went, but did not sin.  Jesus have shown us how to respond in our times of “human weakness”, assuring us that God is with us even in lowest moments of life, pray.                                        

Nini Rebollos, OP

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