My Lenten Journey: Lessons I Learned from Forty Days of the Bible


What can the Bible teach us? Elisabeth Smith ’28 explored it more deeply during Lent.

Instead of a traditional Lenten fast of giving up chocolate and such, I opted to spend the forty days by reading five minutes of the Bible every single night. Never having read Scripture in this way, I was unsure of where to begin, where to end, and the lessons I would acquaint myself with along the way. What I was sure of was that this would change my faith in an irreversible, but good, way.

The ancestry of Jesus commences with the Gospel of Matthew, beginning with Abraham, heading to David, then to “the deportation to Babylon” (Matthew 1:17), ending with the birth of Christ, having 14 meticulously placed generations placed between each. This was the first insight I had into the perfection of God’s plan: it may be looked over as an insignificant detail, but the equilibrium concerning Jesus’s genealogy portrays this perfectly, since, as many repentant sinners say, he is the Son of David, the most famed of the kings of Israel, and descendant of Abraham, the first human to whom God showed His power and love to after the original sin of Adam and Eve. Like this, every detail of the history of the universe has been worked out seamlessly, like the tunic of Jesus, and God never forgets about anything or leaves any loose strings. He truly is infallible.

As is mentioned plentifully in every Gospel, the life of Jesus fulfills many things written from the prophets of the old, to be brought in harmony with the new. Starting from as early as the second chapter in the Gospel of Matthew, the placement of the birth of Jesus fits in unison with the words of the Prophet Micah, who foretold the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem, saying: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me, one who is to be ruler in Israel” (Micah, 5:2), and continues on throughout His life up to the Passion. God planned His son’s life to reflect perfectly everything said in by the Old Testament prophets, and provided St. Paul with many reasons and explanations to the life of Christ as he went where the Holy Spirit called him to preach the Good News. This provides a simple and understandable transition for the Jews who Jesus and the Apostles were preaching to by connecting the Bible they knew and studied to the fulfillment of God’s promise for a Savior and the New Testament documentation of it.

When the story continued on, the Beatitudes were proclaimed during the Sermon on the Mount, but to my surprise, they reiterated the laws of the Old Testament and of Moses. Jesus speaks of not only refraining from killing and impure acts, but also cleansing one’s mind of those desires, taking the law one step further than the 5th and 6th commandment state and bringing it to the 9th and 10th commandments, which state: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s” (Exodus, 20:17). Before reading the passage in question, I believed that these were new standards Catholics needed to follow, but truly, Jesus did not come to abolish or change the Old Testament, but only to fulfill its promises.

One of the many highlights of the life of Jesus is all of the people who He heals and brings back to God and faith, especially with the most impossible-seeming cases. This looks at first glance to be a showing of the infinite powers of God, but is also truly a showing of the love of God, if one pays more attention to the signal phrases preceding the miracles. Before He says the words to heal the ill, it generally begins with “Moved with pity” (Mark, 1:41) or such, showing that He does want to help humanity because we are loved by God, and He wants to help us in every way possible. God is not a show-off; He knows that He is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, but not a single one of these highly impressive and rare qualities are used against us. These have only been used to our benefit. Nobody was forcing God to help us, or save us from our sins, and even give us life in the first place, but He did, loving so greatly that Heaven was not complete without us. God is love, and He gave us nothing else.

In the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus meets sisters Mary and Martha in a village, and befriends them instantly. As Jesus stayed in their home, Martha took the role of a servant to Him, and Mary sat at His side, listening to His teachings. This upset Martha, who wanted her sister to help her serve, but Jesus told her: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke, 10:41-42). This was always one passage of the Bible which I could never wrap my head around, in spite of the time spent pondering its meaning; were we not called to serve God, and isn’t that what Martha was practicing? Reading this anew, however, it came to me that God is not calling us to be His slaves, but to the contrary, His friends instead, and like good friends should, to listen to what He says. Jesus wanted Mary to sit and listen to His word, because that is what a good friend would do. I say this not to imply that it is bad to serve others or to serve God, but only to say that it is also important to be a friend to Him too and sit and listen to what He has to say.

Finally, at the time of Christ’s Passion, Jesus foretold Peter’s betrayal of Him, and Peter forcefully denied it, never wanting to hurt Him, but after the cock crowed three times, Peter had already refused to defend his faith another three times. Once he realized the implications of his actions, “he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew, 26:75). Even though it was terrible for Peter to sin, in a backwards sort of way, it can be a little comforting that it happened because it shows that even the greatest in faith among us can fall down. That which is truly the most important lesson from this passage may be that these three denials do not keep Peter from loving Jesus and laying down his life for Him. God forgives Peter because he is truly sorry, not unlike what we experience in the confessional today. Peter went on with his life to heal and convert many, and preach the Word of God with unfailing faith, hope, and love. Reading this, I found that, even when my sins seem to be holding me down, they are all temporary weights, and that, after confession, I can still go on to grow in faith and bring that faith to others, following the invaluable example St. Peter provides.

I recognize that my Lenten promise can be viewed as very unorthodox, but looking back on the season, I have grown in love for Christ more than I have in any other Lent in my life. It was a chance to learn all of the stories and lessons taught by Jesus and the Apostles, strengthen my understanding of how Christianity came to be, why we believe in what we believe, and of Jesus’s life on Earth. I would highly recommend this journey for others next Lent, as I plan to repeat it myself.


By Elisabeth Smith ‘28, Rising Middle School Editor