for Sunday, March 5, 2017
Lent! Once more we begin this time of year that we call "Lent." It is a time of year when we reflect more on our sinfulness and the need for salvation and redemption. Today many people in our world no longer believe in God and no longer recognize that there is sin. People make mistakes but they don't sin. The challenge of a world without God is no longer repentance but helping people not make mistakes.
Our Scriptures teach us clearly about sin. Sin is choosing that which separates us from God and from others. Sins can be serious or they can be minor. Our first reading today, from the Book of Genesis, gives us the story of how our ancestors saw sin come into the world. We call this first sin the original sin and that first sin is passed along to all of us so that we are born into a world already touched and marked by original sin. The teaching of this reading is clear: sin exists and touched our ancestors and touches all of us.
The second reading, from the Letter to the Romans, picks up this teaching and expands it a bit. The last bit of this second reading is what we need to hear, over and over: "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous." We hear clearly that although we all suffer the consequences of sin, so also every one of us can share in salvation and redemption. Our ancestors all suffered under sin and had no way to salvation and redemption until the coming of Jesus Christ, who is our Lord.
The Gospel of Matthew that we hear today is about Christ in the desert. As Jesus begins His public life, the evil one, the devil, comes to try to seduce Him. Jesus has taken on our human life. Jesus had to fight temptation, just as we do. But Jesus never chooses sin and death. We do. But because Jesus chose life and the will of His Father, Jesus has broken the hold of sin and death on all of us and allowed us to become free from sin in Him.
Even at the beginning of Lent, we must keep our eyes focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is only the death and resurrection of our Lord which allows us to be saved. Our freedom from sin is a gift of Jesus to us. Jesus was willing to die for us so that we could have the power to live His life and also triumph over sin and death.
In Lent we try to strengthen our understanding of this mystery of salvation. We try to strengthen our bonds with Jesus the Lord. We practice penances of good works so that the love of Jesus overflows through us to others. Lent is a time to practice the hard discipline of love: love of God and love of others.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Genesis 2.7-9, 16-18, 25; 3.1-7++
Second Reading: Romans 5.12-19
Gospel: Matthew 4.1-11
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: