How Hypocrisy Has Overtaken Godliness During Lenten Season

On Ash Wednesday Christians go to church to receive ash on their foreheads. It is often a day of fasting. The receiving of ashes has a long tradition in the Church.

Pope Francis, while celebrating Ash Wednesday at the Dominican-run Basilica of Santa Sabina in 2015, he described Lent as a journey of purification and penance – a movement that should bring one tearfully back to the loving arms of the merciful Father.

There could never have been a better time to preach this message but on Ash Wednesday, the day when all Christians walk around with the sign of the cross on their foreheads:
those two smudge-strokes of ash made by the fronds burned from the last Palm Sunday. It is to mark the beginning of Lent, which, some commentators argue, is equally, to mark the season of hypocrisy.    

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As a matter of fact, for some, hypocrisy in Church is not even news that they should be surprised about.

It has been ironically asserted by pundits that a big part of being a Christian is being a hypocrite. And that apparently lent’s about displaying how hypocritical we’re altogether.

Zachery Genza, a 22year old lad in Banda is not only devout Catholic but also a dedicated altar boy in his Church. In a protracted conversation with him, Genza intimated to us that it’s not asking for too much to make such a small effort, for God’s sake. “Forty days is not forever,” he adds.

Genza who’s also a student at Kyambogo University continues that he would have the rest of the year to have fun. And fun, of course, is everything that he would rather not do during Lent.

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As it is, Genza is abstaining from all enjoyment until Easter Sunday. “I am clean,” he reaffirms and like that, he justifies why he wouldn’t club or booze. He doesn’t even want any girlfriends now.

In the meantime he visits the sick, donates to the elderly, attends mid-week mass at Church and he foregoes good stuff, especially pork on Wednesday and Friday. Such behavior modification is simply not hard to come by during Lent season and if only such exemplary restraint would linger!

It is common knowledge that whereas Christians behave awesomely fine during this season, when it’s all over, they absurdly pull back their nasty behavior into the society, a situation always prompting others to talk of lent as a season of hypocrisy.

Meanwhile, according to Rev. Fr. Joseph Kagere of St. Mulumba Parish in Lugazi Diocese, the purpose of Lent is not that people will pretend.

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“The idea is for Christians to yield to a little discomfort and suffer, even as Christ endured such untold pain yet not for his own sake but for our sake, who were lost in sin, without hope and without God,” he renders. He continues that it makes a lot of sense with the fact that as Catholics “we not only abstain from all good stuff but we also intercede and give alms to the needy.”

On the other hand, Catalina is 52 years old, a staunch Catholic in Mukono who prides herself deeply in having been brought up in a thoroughly religious home where her father was a Catechist and three of her brothers fully consecrated Catholic priests.

Catalina, in her perception and practice, intimated to us that for as long as she doesn’t taste meat during lent at all, she would have observed lent to the letter. Many Catholics believe like this – acting up through a season, minding less of what a spiritual rejuvenation experience it ought to be.

Meanwhile according to Pentecostal Pastor who converted from Catholicism, Charles Magembe of Christ Love Ministries, Mukono, “Catholic fasting, is just a time to eat delicious food that is not meat like the mouth-watering vegetarian dishes, for example.  Yet the Bible in Colossians 2:16-18, “So let no one make rules about what you eat or drink or about holy days or the New Moon Festival or the Sabbath.  All such things are only a shadow of things in the future; the reality is Christ”

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Magembe continues that while many Catholics tend to be at their best during Lent, they judge others for eating meat. Moreover, themselves, soon after Holy Week ends, everybody goes back to their sinful lives like haters and backbiters, adulterers and their live-in partners, adulteresses and stealing other women’s husbands, pornography addicts and their obsession with all sorts of filth, etc. while sinfully believing in works of salvation. All these are the typical caliber of hypocrites.

It should be noted though that the leader of the Catholic Church has condemned such hypocrisy. In his message at Mass celebrated in Casa Santa Marta on the morning of June 19, 2013, Pope Francis remarked that, “The Lord speaks about fasting, about prayer, about almsgiving: the three pillars of Christian piety that the Church proposes to us all in Lent.”

“There are however hypocrites along this path,” he observed, “who make a show of fasting, of giving alms, of praying. I think that when hypocrisy reaches this point in the relation with God, we are coming very close to the sin against the Holy Spirit. These do not know beauty, they do not know love, and these do not know the truth: they are small, cowardly.”

In all, there’s surely agreement among Christians that Lenten season hypocrisy is just an extension of everyday hypocrisy, and we can and should rise above it and live in the compassionate heavenly will of God.

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