First Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends and Parishioners,

Pax Christi semper vobiscum!

We began our Lenten discipline last Wednesday through the imposition of ashes on our foreheads. We were reminded that, “we came from dust and to dust we shall return.” We were invited to, “turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” Both were admonitions that, if taken seriously, will bring us closer to God. Not only that, but a significant part of the Lenten discipline is summarized in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We pray because our soul is longing for a closeness to the One who is the ultimate source of life. We fast not for its own sake, but to discipline our body to resist from craving the most basic human need. Fasting strengthens the core of our soul as we gaze upon the face of Christ who was tempted in the desert. Our almsgiving should be motivated by prayer and fasting; it must direct our attention to the needs of our brethren.

This Sunday’s Gospel reading brings us back to Jesus’ experience in the desert, with the unfolding of our salvation history. Jesus was tempted by the devil. He was pushed to the edge of His self-control. His inner strength to resist was challenged. Yet, how did He survive this ordeal? There is only reason. He loves the Father. Jesus knew His ultimate priority. The depth of His relationship with the Father guided Him to make a decision that is life fulfilling. Jesus was able to anticipate the apparent good that would result in His decision by not choosing to submit to the power of temptations.

The imagery that was presented by the Gospel is our own image whenever we are confronted by our desert experience. Loneliness (being in the desert) is an inevitable reality that we often experience whether it is matter of choice or of life circumstance. It is during this time that we find ourselves vulnerable (moment of temptations) to crave for power, manipulate our influence or carelessly respond to our hunger for love, affection, and appreciation by those who surround us. It is during our own desert experience that our sense of compromise is challenged. Jesus’ temptation in the desert is an example of the struggle of our human nature while we are making the right choices each day. The humanity within us is always challenged to make an affirmation of the love of God that is life giving and life sustaining.

Take a closer look at the people of Ukraine who remain resilient amidst the attack of the powerful army of Russia. Their resistance to the invasive power is motivated by unity and quest for freedom. The battle is still going on. There will be hunger, destruction, bombings, family separations and death. Yet, the Ukrainians remain convinced that the freedom of their country is what they are willing to die for. Freedom costs life and death. I am sure that some of them might already be tempted to give up and retreat from the battle. Yet, their inner strength remains strong for within the heart of each soldier and their leaders, they believe that victory belongs to the present and the future generation.

Our liberation from the bondage of sin demanded the blood of the Son of God. He did not give into the power of temptations. Jesus freed us from the power of death by offering His life on the Cross so that we could all share the Glory of God. These forty days of Lent is a period of introspection for us to be attentive to the voice within that calls us to love that we may be set free.

I wish for you a prayerful and meaning Lenten Journey.

Sincerely in Christ and Mary,