Forty Days of Lent

There are 46 days between Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and Easter Sunday.  But the days of Lent do not include any of the six Sundays; therefore, there are only 40 days of fasting.

So why is Lent forty days?  Well, think about some of the Old Testament stories.  Noah and family were in the Ark for 40 days.  Moses and the Israelites wandered around the desert for 40 years.  Also consider that it takes forty weeks for a developing baby in the womb before a new birth can take place.

All these “forties” (and there are other examples): what does it mean?  For the new born, of course, it is a new life.  In Noah’s case, it’s the rebirth of a sinful world that had been cleansed by raging flood waters.  For the nomadic Israelites, it was the start of a new, settled existence in the Promised Land.

And for Jesus’ forty days it meant the birth of a new Israel liberated from sin, reconciled to God, and governed by the law of the Spirit rather than one etched in stone.

Our diligent prayer, fasting, and charitable service nourished by the Eucharist and Scripture can ease our darkness toward light for something new and wonderful to be reborn in us. (10:13)