Dear Followers of the Christ,
On this First Sunday of Lent, this passage from Luke 4:1-13 brings us into the desert, an image of these forty days of Lent. In this text, Jesus is confronted by the devil. He battles temptations for food, for power, and for safety. Jesus overrides all temptations. No evil is 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 identity in Christ. Jesus washes away our sins, doubts, and failures. We enter more deeply into prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to revitalize our faith and to sustain our commitments in the Church. However, these go far deeper than obligation. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving reveal our ultimate surrender to the dying and rising of Jesus Christ.
How do we enter more deeply into prayer this Lent? The Church invites us to renew our devotional life in Lent. We may pray 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, Lent reveals the deeper reasons for prayer. We learn a profounder, more beautiful reliance on God. 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. Lent reveals the life that is really ours, to be more open to intimacy, love, and forgiveness. Lent is not a season to make us feel unworthy of God, rather it is a vehicle to deeper intimacy with the Divine. The core of our Christian lives is to discover Jesus Christ, and to commit our lives once again to the pattern of redemption with his passion, death, and resurrection. We are one in the Paschal Mystery.
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. Prayer invites us into relationship with Jesus, an intimacy that is the core of life.
Lent leads well beyond the desert. Lent leads us into the joy of belonging to Christ’s resurrection. Death gives way to life. This is our deep joy and profound place within the Church. We belong to God through baptism. Lent is a time to renew our baptismal call and commitment so that the Church may thrive. In the Lenten season we renew our lives in Christ, and we do so to serve the needs of the world. The beauty of Lent is ultimately about the wonder, joy, and salvation of the entire world. Baptism is not just about our salvation, but it is a vehicle for renewal, love, and service to all humanity. We shall rejoice at Easter within our personal and common prayer. Life in the desert gives way to forgiveness and peace in this beautiful and glorious world.
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC Pastor