As we approach the start of Holy Week, the common question that people have had since the beginning of Lent is, Why is Lent forty days? There are many reasons but the biggest is that the number forty is what is known as a “biblical number.” This means that the number may or may not be completely true but it means something more than a literal number. We see the number forty throughout the Bible. Noah was in the arc forty days and forty nights, Mosses and the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, there are forty generations in Jesus’s genealogy, and Jesus was tempted in the desert for forty days.
There are many more examples of the number forty throughout the Bible, so what exactly does the number forty mean? The Church states that the number forty represents a time of purification. The world was purified after the forty days and forty nights that Noah was in the Ark, the Israelites were purified and entered the Holy Land after forty years of wandering in the Desert, the Israelite people were purified for forty generations when Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, and lastly Jesus went to purify himself in the desert and fight against Satan before he began his public ministry.
So it would seem that Lent is forty days so that we can be purified for the Resurrection of the Lord. Lent is quickly drawing to a close, now is a good time to reflect on these forty days and to see how much or how little we tried to purify ourselves from our sins in order to prepare for Christ’s Resurrection from the dead.