40 is a biblical number.
- Noah and his family were in the arc for 40 days and nights.
- The Israelite’s were in the desert for 40 years.
- Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights.
- Jonah powerfully warned ancient Nineveh for forty days.
- The children of Israel, Saul, David, and Solomon each ruled for forty years.
- Isaac and Esau were both forty years old when they were first married.
- Jesus was in the desert for 40 days and nights.
- Jesus appeared to his disciples and others for 40 days after his resurrection.
There are more but not listed here. 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing or trial.
Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was hungry, and the tester came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves.’ When the devil tempts Jesus, this is the temptation of the flesh. These are the pleasures of the body, food, drink, and any physical pleasure. But he replied, ‘Scripture says: Human beings live not on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ The devil then took him to the holy city and set him on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down; for scripture says: He has given his angels orders about you, and they will carry you in their arms in case you trip over a stone.’ The second temptation was a test about glory. The glory of being high in society and given honor. Jesus said to him, ‘Scripture also says: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all these, if you fall at my feet and do me homage.’ The third temptation had to do with power to control and manipulate others. Then Jesus replied, ‘Away with you, Satan! For scripture says: The Lord your God is the one to whom you must do homage, him alone you must serve.’
Devil wants to lead us away from God. Therefore we need time to prepare our soul for Easter. A good time to do this is Lent. 40 days is a time to get closer to Jesus through sacrifice and penance. It’s a journey with Jesus through His passion before the joy of Easter. Why sacrifice through this journey? If a fast is done from food for example, our hungry body is a reminder for us to focus on Jesus and His suffering for us. This is a way to pull ourselves away from the needs of the earth and depend on Jesus for our needs. It is a time of more prayer and more love toward others. It is a sacrifice to be kind before our morning coffee. For some people it would be a sacrifice to put family first and be nice to them and cut out the complaints. It is a time to let go of bad habits like smoking, overeating, and sin in general. Lent provides the setting for a new spiritual awareness that might be carried throughout the year.
Embrace the challenge of Lent, grow spiritually, love endlessly.