The beginning of lent in the Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church starts with the Shubkono service which calls for being at peace with those who we are in contact with. The service is indeed of great significance and the holding of hands and offering peace to everyone brings in a serenity in the midst of the all the affliction we may be experiencing. The specialty of the service is in the reconciliation we seek with our brothers and sisters and those who assemble in church. One can obviously take this a step further by doing the same to people in the work place, school and college. The humility which this brings can obviously bring about much healing not just to the person who reconciles but also to the person who is reconciled with. The inherent meaning at the symbolism of kneeling and asking God for mercy also prepares us to humble ourselves.
Many divisions and problems can be done away with this act of reconciliation. It is important to know that reconciliation makes more sense when it is done from a position of strength. When one looks around one cannot ignore the fact that we are advised never to give up our position of advantage when we are trying to come to a peaceful agreement with someone. Countries and communities will therefore find it difficult to come to terms with a peaceful settlement by giving something away. The true spirit of lent though calls for this giving up of our strength and positions. Lent being a sacrifice also makes sense more to those who have something to sacrifice in the first place. One should be sensitive in not preaching to others to observe lent while continuing in one’s strength and using that to preach down to others.
This sacrifice leads to a strengthening in terms of one’s spirituality. This cannot be gauged in terms of the usual world we live in where strength means beating others into submission. The story of the wedding at Cana is also a sacrifice committed by Jesus for others. This is a sacrifice which takes into consideration the need of others and looks at what we can do for them. Such sacrifice of blood and sweat makes the wine taste better and stronger. Strength is given off by Jesus for the sake of others. It is a strength he possesses but is willing to give away.
The importance of working together during lent also attains importance through the story where St.Mary, Jesus and the workers all together work to strengthening the guests. Such is the strength of community lent as well. It should not matter that we are doing it personally but should rather matter that we are doing is as a team and working towards the accomplishment of a single goal. This will bring about a draining of one’s strength for the replenishing of energy and strength of another. This noble thought of being weak so that someone may become strong rings through the song Amazing Grace with the words “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” For the one who is being reconciled with, the thought of a caring being and the possibility to find oneself and be able to ‘really see’ is liberating.
Every lent becomes a time to re-invent what we have done. The basics are always the same but the interpretations have to change so that as we grow, lent also makes more and more sense to us. This is indeed an inspiring thought. We are becoming part of a movement. This is a movement to make the poor rich and the weak strong. For this we have to lent(d) ourselves and feel the energy and inspiration that Jesus’ disciples felt when he asked them to join the movement that he put forward. May reconciliation lead to the washing away of our sins and gaining of the lives of those who lost it for us.