First Sunday of Lent, March 1
May God’s Spirit Strengthen Us in Whatever Dry and Arid Deserts We May Find Ourselves Experiencing in Life.
We read in today’s Gospel, “…Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights.”
On this First Sunday of Lent, as you and I experience our own Lenten journey “for forty days and forty nights”, we read in today’s Gospel how our Lord began the process of preparing Himself for the mission to which His Father was calling Him – the purpose for which He took the frailties of our flesh upon Himself.
In the desert, our Lord was tempted by Satan, inducing Him to succumb to the temptations of material needs, pride and power. And His renunciations of the temptations in the desert, which we read about today, strengthen Him for the ministry for which He came into this world. His renunciations strengthen Him to forevermore fulfill the will of His Eternal Father.
Where did Jesus find the strength to survive the desert’s harsh conditions and the tempter’s seduction after forty days of fasting? Our Lord fed on God’s word and found strength in His Love for His Father.
Just as Satan tempted our Lord who remained strong in the midst of His physical weakness, just as Satan tempted Adam and Eve who failed because of their moral weakness, he will also surely tempt each and every one of us during this time of Lent, and he will try his best to weaken us so that we choose our will over God’s.
If he cannot make us renounce our faith or to sin mortally, he will then try to influence us to make choices that will lead us, little by little, away from what God wants for each of us.
Our Lenten practices – whether they be fasting in one form or another, whether they be forms of charity which we exercise in our lives for the benefit of others, or whether they be an increase in our prayerful devotion which we have for God – no matter what form our Lenten practices may take, they are meant to strengthen us and guide us into a deeper holiness.
They are meant to draw us ever closer to God in our relationship of love which you and I are called to live with Him. And they are also meant to give us the grace we need to live a life of virtue, resisting temptation which may confront us in our daily life.
Saint Leo the Great, one of the early Church Fathers, stated long ago that what Christians should be doing at all times should be especially done now during this season of Lent with a greater focus and with a greater devotion.
In other words, rather than focusing on doing more, we should be focusing on doing better – our prayer life, our daily communication with God, our personal penances and offerings, our daily works of charity. Our walk of faith during this season of Lent should help us live in a closer communion with our God, a way in which we truly live our faith with a deeper devotion in oneness with our Creator and our Savior.
Lent, for each of us, can be seen as a long retreat, an opportunity for looking within ourselves, observing what needs to be pruned and what needs to be nurtured and cultivated. For it is that special time of the year which allows us to focus on what our relationship with Jesus Christ is truly like, and how we can live this relationship in a more meaningful way.
As we reflect upon our own walk of faith, do we practice what we believe out of fear of committing sin, or out of a deep devotion and love for God? Looking at how we live and observe the practices of our faith can help teach us about the depth of our relationship with God.
Lent becomes a time during which we can begin to look at our personal motives, the causes behind what we say or do, and whether our words and actions are truly pleasing to the God who has given us every good gift – the gift of life, the gift of a part of Himself – our immortal soul, the gift of His Love and the love from those who are an intimate part of our daily lives.
And the gift which you and I celebrate today is the recognition that, without Jesus Christ, our life would be an empty shell. For, as Saint Paul tells us in today’s Second Reading, “…how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.”
I cannot even imagine what life would be like if Jesus had never been born. His coming amongst us taught us of the unfathomable Love which His Father has for all of His children. And the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, His suffering, death and resurrection, has given us a new hope – a hope in the gift of eternal life which is offered to each and every one of us.
For as Paul reminds us: just as through Adam, “condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.”
During this season, you and I are called to reflect upon the sufferings and Passion of Jesus Christ, as well as upon our own sufferings, and how we might become better beneficiaries of the grace which God wishes to bestow upon each of us.
As was mentioned in previous meditations, Lent is a time of transition, a time when we look within ourselves and see all that needs to be renewed, all that needs to be transformed interiorly.
For us to be renewed, for us to be transformed, we must first realize the importance of opening our hearts and returning to the God who has given to each of us the gift of His Son, who calls us today to follow Him, to come close to Him, to live in Him and make Him present in our world.
He stands by us to strengthen and nourish us with His own Body and Blood, His True Eucharistic Presence, giving us the gift of His own Divine Life, shaping us and molding us, washing us clean – so that we may truly be His now and forever!
As we look within ourselves and witness our own frail and sinful human nature, the Lenten desert calls out to each of us and reminds us of how dependent we truly are upon God’s immeasurable Love and Mercy!
It is only when we truly embrace the virtue of humility that we begin to effect a change within ourselves. And, in this process of change, this interior transformation, we truly begin to find ourselves growing in our relationship of love with our Savior, a relationship which brings us into a more intimate and personal understanding of what our Lord accepted for Himself – the indescribable cruelty and suffering which He endured, the agonizing death which He freely embraced – all because He loves you and me beyond all manner of human description.
Only in this way, can you and I truly grow during this Lenten season in a deeper and a more personal and intimate relationship with our God, so that each of us may grow in grace and virtue to resist temptation in life.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, you and I entered into the desert with our Lord for forty days, so that we might be strengthened, so that we may know and feel His Love for us. May Jesus’ Word become life and joy for each of us.
And may He fill us with His Holy Spirit, so that you and I may have the strength and courage to embrace His Divine will in all things, in whatever dry and arid deserts we may find ourselves experiencing throughout our daily journey in life.
For, only then, shall we humbly find ourselves echoing the words of today’s psalmist, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise”!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “…Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights.” (Matthew 4:1-2a)
- “For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17)
- “…just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18-19)
- “In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” (Romans 8:26)
- “Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall. No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
- “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.” (1 Peter 5:8-10)
- “…pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life…” (1 Timothy 6:11b-12b)
- “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.” (Psalm 51:17)
Prayer for the Day
“Saint Michael the Archangel,
invincible Prince of the Angelic hosts
and glorious protector of the universal Church,
I greet you and praise you for that splendor
with which God has adorned you so richly.
“I thank God for the great graces He has bestowed upon you,
especially to remain faithful
when Lucifer and his followers rebelled,
and to battle victoriously for the honor of God
and the Divinity of the Son of Man.
“Saint Michael, I consecrate to you my body and my soul.
I choose you as my patron and protector
and entrust the salvation of my soul to your care.
Be the guardian of my obligation as a child of God,
as again I renounce Satan, and all his pomps and works.
“Please assist me by your powerful intercession
in the fulfillment of these sacred promises,
so that imitating your courage and loyalty to God,
and trusting in your kind help and protection,
I may be victorious over the enemies of my soul
and be united with God in Heaven forever. Amen.”Prayer of Consecration to Saint Michael