First Sunday of Lent

Intention: That God may bless and protect all those who carry healing and peace to the poor, the abused, and the forgotten people of our world.

Today’s Gospel | Mark 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

A Lenten Reflection

In the narrative of the temptation in the desert, Jesus rejects Satan’s efforts to cajole him away from his mission.  Its theme of the struggle between good and evil suggests that there is a dark seductiveness that lurks in our world and seeks to lure us into corruption and self-destruction.  Whether or not one chooses to believe this scenario, the question of how to both know and do the right thing remains among the most common and challenging in human experience.

At the heart of the Gospel lies the call to metanoia, to turn away from doing evil and to embrace the goodness of God.  Poet Johann von Goethe once wrote: “If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.”  That is to say, all of us have an authentic identity that flows from the reality of God’s character of ultimate goodness.  Moral decisions come down to a choice between honoring that identity or betraying it.  Doing right affirms and expresses our best and truest self, while doing wrong denies and compromises it.

The cumulative effect of persons doing what is wrong is that it creates a culture of self-contradiction, where we think that we can fulfill who we are by abandoning who we are.  The season of Lent calls us to turn away from this trap.  We must choose to stand against the temptations of ego and delusion and to instead walk in God’s ways of virtue and integrity.  By working to reclaim our lives from the confusion of sin, we can gain a clearer vision for ourselves and for the world that we can build.

Prayer

Eternal Father, every day you call us to faithfulness.  Forgive us for those times when we closed ourselves to your presence and to your voice.  In this time of Lent, help us to recognize you in the many ways that you come to us, especially in the people that we know and the needs that they have.  Bless us with the humility and the strength to help build your Kingdom.  We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts forever.