for Sunday, February 14, 2016
This First Sunday of Lent tells us of the temptations of Christ in the Desert to encourage us also to resist temptation and to remain faithful to God in these days of Lent. The first reading, from the Book of Deuteronomy, prepares us to understand freedom from slavery - which can at first be physical but which is much worse when it is slavery to sin. The second reading, from the Letter to the Romans, gives us the way in which we can move from slavery to free, the way in which we can resist temptation, when it tells us: everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
We are just at the beginning of Lent today, my sisters and brothers, and we must look at the purpose of Lent. The purpose is not for us to do some actions that draw attention to ourselves. We don’t fast and pray and do penance so that others can admire us. No, we fast and pray and do penance so that we can move from the slavery of sin to the freedom of grace, the freedom of living in the power of Jesus Christ.
Lent is a time that tests us. We are asked to put a lot of energy into becoming more faithful to all the Jesus asks of us. We show that energy - to ourselves, not to others - by taking up some small practices that will help us remember that we belong to the Lord. This is the Year of Mercy in our Catholic Church and surely the practices of Lent this year should include in some way living out the Spiritual and Corporal Works of mercy. As Saint James tells us in his letter: show me your faith and I will show you my works. If the faith we have does not bring about within us the works of faith, then our faith is dead.
The temptations of Christ in the desert are those of all human beings: the urge to live by our desires and needs rather than by the Word of God, the presumption that God will save us even if we do nothing and the temptation to want power and dominion over others. The early Christians came to identify seven major sins - that means seven major ways of leaving the path of the Lord: pride, anger, lust, greed, envy, gluttony and laziness.
Lent is a time of struggle for each of us with whatever pulls us off the path of the Lord. This First Sunday of Lent is a time to reflect on the Lord Jesus and His struggle with the devil and for us to resolve to struggle against the devil and all evil in our own lives. We can bring our struggles to the Lord and set them before Him and bow down in his presence.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: