Lent has Begun: Time to Change and Celebrate Christ’s Life!
Submitted by Fr. Chuck on Fri, 03/11/2011 - 12:28pm.
After his baptism by John in the river Jordan, Jesus heard the voice of God, His Father, saying, “You are my son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” In that moment Jesus probably discovered who he really was and that he was sent by God to be the promised Messiah, the Savior.
Then, he was filled with the Holy Spirit, who descended upon him in the form of a dove. Immediately, he was led by the Spirit into the desert. There he spent 40 days in prayer and fasting, in order to discern what was God’s will and plan for him and to gather strength to accomplish it.
After 40 days of fasting, Jesus was hungry and physically weak. The devil took advantage of his vulnerability to tempt him and, if possible, to turn him away from his mission. The devil tempted him with the seductions of pleasure, wealth and power. Jesus rejected the temptations.
Jesus, fortified spiritually with the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, won the battle. That battle with the devil had cosmic consequences; on the final outcome depended the salvation of the whole world. Jesus overcame the temptations and chose the way which eventually led him to great suffering and the ignominious death on the cross. But, for us, it led to eternal life.
Just as Jesus was tempted, our families and our communities too struggle with temptations. We have often fallen short. The Lenten journey of 40 days is a pilgrim journey in which we seek healing and transformation. We see so much need for change in our communities. In Mexico, we experience the rise of fear and threats. Families and friends are forced to warn one another not to participate in traditional celebrations for fear that narco-traffickers and organized criminals might identify or follow them. Beyond Mexico, in places like Libya, Bahrain and Egypt, communities struggle for respect and dignity raising their voice for change.
In our parish, we suffered a shooting just a block from Cooper Academy and buried a man who died as a result of violence. These incidents remind us of our need for change.
Our community has fought long and hard for immigration reform while counties and towns formalize laws based on fear and prejudice. Yet, in our struggle, in recent elections, less than forty percent of our community voted.
Our cry for change in our families can be heard above the lying, the cheating and the deceit. Husbands are unfaithful to wives; sisters and brothers often do not even speak to one another and others openly fight.
The Church invites us to walk with Jesus into the desert during these 40 days of Lent. She invites us to reflect on God’s call and our vocation in life; to pray that we have the strength and courage to accomplish our mission and to overcome temptations which could turn us away from our calling; to ask God’s pardon and do penance for our failings and the sins of our society in which we live and participate.
Let us walk with Jesus through Lent with daily family prayer, with fasting and abstinence on the appointed days (Fridays during Lent), with participation in the Sunday masses and holy Communion, with more patience and kindness in our homes and work-places, giving alms to the poor, visiting the sick and the elderly and, in general, being more charitable and cheerful.
Then, at the end of Lent, we shall leave the desert with Jesus, spiritually fortified and resurrected and able to live more fully our Christian lives and callings during the rest of the year.