We are told that the word “Lent” is from Anglo-Saxon roots and means Spring. However, in an ironic way, the word “Lent” is perfectly suited to what this period before Easter is all about.
In addition to the known meaning as the 40 days before Easter wherein we fast, pray, and give up pleasures in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, the word “lent” happens to also be the transitive verb form of the verb “lend” which is to give something with the understanding that it is to be returned at some future date, perhaps with interest. This second meaning is very ironic to me because, if we think about it, everything we are, have, and will ever be is lent to us by God with the understanding that we are to make some use of it during our lives to bring greater glory to Him.
Our earthly materialism is mere absurdity given the eternal reality that, not only is whatever we have here on earth very temporary and cannot be “taken with us” after we die but, also, even its temporary use here on earth has the very strict requirement, if it is to be properly used, of being used to serve and bring greater glory to the wonderful God Who gives us everything, and to Whom we owe everything in return.
Taken in this context, our lives, our possessions, our children, all of our blessings, our health, our money, and everything we have or are, for that matter, are temporarily handed to us as an experiment to see what we do with all of these blessings. Our first responsibility, or mission, if you will, is to discern and discover what each of these blessings are. Our second responsibility, it follows, is to maximize these blessings to the fullest in the service of the greater glory of God Almighty. It is thus that our third responsibility, then, is realized, which is to give these blessings back to God with interest. What is that interest? Perhaps it is the added enhancement of having been used for God’s purpose beyond its mere existence.
Just as Ash Wednesday reminds us to repent, and that we will all eventually return to dust, so too the entire context of the word “Lent” should remind us that every hair on our head and every moment of our lives has been “lent” to us by God, with the clear understanding that we are to do something very unique with those blessings beyond the selfish use for self-comfort and benefit. This is why materialism and possessiveness are such absurd, foolish traits. Everything we are and have belongs to God, and it is our responsibility to return as much of what we own and are to God with some return on His investment, or else have to answer why we failed to uphold that responsibility as children of God.
Notice, as stated before, that “lent” is considered a transitive verb. Now,, the word “transitive” itself means being characterized by transition and having a direct object. Well, should not this earth be nothing but a transition to us, a temporary holding post on our journey back home to Heaven? Likewise, should the Word of God and the example of Christ be our direct objects, that which all we do aims to?
So, you see, the word “Lent” means more than a coming spring. For true Catholics and likewise fervent Christians, the word “lent” reminds us that we came to this earth naked and poor and we will leave it that way as well since, after all, wealth comes from people and circumstances of this earth, and has no special connection of influence with Heaven.
Ultimately, we each have a duty to bring others to Christ through example and word, which means that we are merely temporary stewards awaiting a rich reward in Heaven while adding interest, compounded spiritually, to everything we do, everyone we help, and everything we are, as long as God is involved.
Copyright, 2014 Gabriel Garnica, All Rights Reserved.