Thursday 3 March 2022; Deuteronomy 30:15-20;Psalm 1:1-4,6; Luke 9:22-25
It does perhaps seem inconvenient that Lent starts part way through a week. Would it not be tidier to have, say, 6 weeks of Lent, Sunday to Sunday? That would make 42 days, which some authors would say is a complete and perfect number.
Well, the answer lies in scripture - as we know Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, fasting and praying, preparing himself for the culmination of his mission here on Earth. The number 40 is also the number of years Israel spent wandering in the desert, is the number of days that Elijah wandered in the desert before his prophetic vision, and is the time in days between Easter and Pentecost. If you think in terms of 'a time long enough to have forgotten exactly when it began' and one might see the point. All of these times were a time of preparation, and all are long enough for us to forget what lay behind - some of which we might need to repent of and remember that in confession God forgives and forgets - and to focus on the promise that lies ahead.
This first half-week of Lent, prepares us in the Gospels for the coming of the Lord's Passover. Today, in Luke we hear of the importance of not avoiding suffering. To share in the joy of Easter, we have to go through the passion. It arrises because the Sundays of Lent can not be counted in the 40 days, because those are the day of the Resurrection - and should not be days of fasting and penance. The counting of days, then, leads us back from Easter to Ash Wednesday as the start of Lent.