The Mount of Lent


Gospel text (Mt 6:1-6.16-18):

Jesus said to his disciples: "Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you."

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you."

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."



            The modern city of Jericho (probably the oldest continually inhabited city in the world) is established on a plain at the foot of a mountain range the locals call “Jabal Al-3arbaín” or the “Mount of the 40”, in reference to the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert (and according to tradition, on that very mountain) early in his public life. Days that have served as inspiration and source of wisdom for Christianity since its inception, most particularly during the liturgical season of Lent.

            The Mount of the 40 is a high rocky mountain, few and small are the plants that dare grow amongst its sandy dry soil.

            I must admit I’m not a mountain person and I wouldn’t choose to hike up a mountain as a hobby even in a day of perfect weather and a mountain covered in green pastures; nevertheless, having been to mountaintops more than once for different reasons; and to the Mount of the 40 in particular, I have to admit: I see the point.

            Mountains in Scripture are places of special connection to God; tough desert mountains maybe even more so. And today that we start our Lenten journey, I cannot help but think of this lent as a mountain too. Lent requires effort and dedication; lent requires having a goal in mind, one that is powerful enough to keep us on track and keep us moving. Today we take the first step of this Lenten hike with Easter in mind. We are not in the condition of the first Christians, not knowing what the season would bring; we know Easter is coming and we know that if we let it come and go without preparation and special awareness, it can pass us by without any fruits. We hike up the mountain of lent, made up of fasting and sacrifices, because we want to reach the summit of Easter, a place of special connection with God and with the way he sees things. 

            From the top of the mountain, Jesus could see the kingdoms of the Earth; but he could also experience that only his Father God deserves adoration, than only his Word nourishes the depths of the human soul and that only in doing his will we will really be able to surpass any obstacles as if carried by angels.

            Today, as you take your first step of lent 2024, take a second to realize Lent is not about following rules or ancient traditions; it’s certainly not about showing off how religious we are or how generous we can be; lent is about Easter and Easter is about life, supernatural life. Go up this mountain and find ways to make each step a source of life for your spirit; go up this mountain and take a breath every now and then to enjoy the view from the height, a view of your life and context that is closer to that of God himself; go up this mountain and find ways to make your traditions and sacrifices sources of life and joy for others, especially for those most in need; go up this mountain without forgetting you know the summit of Easter and the glory it brings! Without forgetting that you might encounter temptation and the enemy along the way too, but knowing all too well that life, that God has the win in this journey, and that win of his, is also ours.



Father God, in my busy and sometimes hectic life, 40 days seems like a lot of time to keep a focus; too little time to become a better person.

Walk with me, Oh God, and let me take this Lenten season day by day, step by step; open my eyes and heart to realize the things I need to change, the things I need to renounce and the ways I can live our traditions and have them nourish my spirit.

Walk with me, Oh God, and let me see things differently day by day, coming closer to the way you look at things and hold them in your heart.

Walk with me, Oh God, and let me reach the summit of your Easter, of your Glory, of your life, just in the way you want me to experience it this year.

May I know, may I feel at every step, that the 40 days of the Journey are there to help me reach the one God of the World.