A Word #135 |First Sunday of Lent| March 5, 2017

Mar 2, 2017

“At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”

Cartoons often create scenes where the main character converses with an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. It is the devil who attempts to persuade the character from doing the wrong thing whereas the angel tries to convince them to do right thing. Although we may not literally have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, there are voices around trying to convince us from doing right or wrong. To be clear, these voices cannot force us to do anything against our free will thus the choice to do right or wrong is up to us. There is no doubt which voice we need to listen to and which voice to ignore. It is the devil who wants us to fail whereas God wants us to succeed. In essence, this is the spiritual battle which life is all about. As we begin this holy season of Lent, we are reminded once again that we are on the frontlines of this spiritual warfare of good versus evil.

In the Gospel, the devil tries three times to tempt Jesus away from accomplishing was Jesus was sent to do. There is no doubt that the devil knew that Jesus was the Son of God, however, pride convinced the devil that he could convince Jesus to be unfaithful. The devil was fully aware that Jesus was sent to destroy what the devil did to our first parents Adam and Eve. Of course, the devil was unsuccessful and Jesus ultimately fulfilled what He was sent to do. Nevertheless what we should take from the temptation of Jesus is that as Jesus the Son of God was tempted to compromise His obedience and fidelity to God, so will we. Yes Jesus is the victor, however, to attain the prize He won for us, we must obey and remain faithful to the gift we have received through baptism.

Thus Lent is our time to renew our baptism commitment in being disciples. As disciples, we are to be people of light, hope, reconciliation, mercy, and love. We are called to be like Jesus who did everything for God and for others. As Jesus gave His life by shedding His blood for, so are we to think of others before ourselves. The Lenten disciple of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving arm us to resist the attack of the devil. They empower us to place ourselves last and God and others first.

In his Lenten Message for this year (2017), Pope Francis writes: Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favor the culture of encounter in our one human family. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.

May this be the best Lent ever and let us pray for each other as we journey together through the desert to the promised Land of salvation.

In Christ,

Fr. John