Dear Followers of the Christ,
On this First Sunday of Lent, this passage from Luke 4:1- 13, brings us to the desert, an image of these forty days of Lent. In this text, Jesus is confronted by the devil. Jesus overrides all temptations. There is no evil greater than the redemptive love of Christ Jesus. He is the reason we are entering into such a journey in the first place.
During the Lenten season, we come closer to our true identity in Christ. Jesus washes away our sins, doubts and failures. We enter more deeply into prayer, fasting and almsgiving as a way to revitalize our faith and to sustain our commitments in the Church.
How do we enter more deeply into prayer this Lent? The Church invites us to renew our devotional life in Lent. We may attend the Stations of the Cross to understand the deep pattern of letting go and receiving the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. We may receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation with more intention or frequency. In Lent, we learn self-reflection and the consequences of our actions. We may also read the scriptures more frequently, reflect with people in a group, or attend daily Mass. We may pray with greater intention with our families at home at mealtime or at bedtime.
However we pray more or differently in Lent, the reason for our prayer is twofold. We learn a deeper, more beautiful reliance on God and we learn more about our sin, our failures and the walls that keep us from intimacy with God. Prayer gets us to the truth, both in our hearts and in our actions. Prayer also offers us the truth of God’s mercy, love and redemption. Lent is not a time to slash our self-esteem or to think we are not worthy of God. Lent in fact is just the opposite; it is a time to reflect on our humility, the life that is really ours, to be more open to the intimacy, love and forgiveness that God has for us.
There is nothing that keeps us from God’s love, nothing at all. Prayer in Lent is meant to lead us into a deeper silence and awareness that forgiveness and mercy are real and forever gifts from God. We don’t change God’s mind in Lent. We allow God to change our hearts for the good in Lent. I invite you to spend time in silence and prayer during Lent. Be aware of God in your heart. Learn to settle into God’s love and do not be afraid.
Lent leads well beyond the desert. It is a journey for us into prayer to be captivated by God once again. We know we belong to God through baptism. Lent is a time to renew our baptismal call and commitment. If everyone during the Lenten season could renew his or her life in Christ, the Church would be a very different place. We shall rejoice at Easter from our prayer that life in the desert gives way to forgiveness and peace.