FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We begin this First Sunday of Lent this year by hearing once again the account of the creation, the temptation and the fall of our ancestors from the Book of Genesis. This reading is surely given to us so that we can understand a small bit the reason that we
keep a Season of Lent in our Church Year. We humans are very easily tempted and just as easily we fall into sins. The stories from Genesis are an attempt to help us understand why we are that way. One of the reasons that we are that way is because we are
all formed in one way or another by the actions of the other people in our lives, and especially at the beginning by our own parents.

The second reading, from the Letter to the Romans, speaks also about the origins of sin and sinful tendencies in our lives, but it moves forward to the love that God has shown us in Jesus, who has overcome all sin and destroyed death. We no longer need fear sin and death. They have been overcome. Our challenge is to come to know this reality of salvation and to begin to live as people who are saved. The Gospel of Matthew which is given to us today speaks of the temptations of Christ. This image of Christ in the desert being tempted by the devil is very powerful. We are invited to reflect on our own deserts, the places in our lives where nothing isgrowing and nothing is cared for.

It is in those areas of our lives, which are in needof the living waters of salvation, that we are invited to spend at least a part of this Lenten season. Christ is an image of this battle against all that is broken within us. Christ has brought healing and wholeness. Christ invites us to share in that healing and wholeness in this time of Lent. What is it in our lives that we are longing for? What is the food that we crave? What are the realities for which we are willingto die? Right now, what do we want in our lives? The answer to each of these questions must then be placed in the context of this first temptation. We must ask ourselves this: am I first seeking God and
the food that God gives to me? If I desire these other things more than God, then I am no longer walking the way of salvation.

The second temptation is, for Jesus, to cast Himselfdown from the parapet of the temple and thus to test if God really loves Him. For us,it is a question of whether we put ourselves into moral dangers and believe somehow that God will watch over us. The answer of Jesus is clear: don’t test God! Yet we often test God by making choices that we know are not the best but which appeal to us. We don’t like suffering or to have to put up with inconveniences, so we end up casting ourselves over the parapet and believing that God will save us. The miracle is that God does always save us. On the other hand, God invites to learn to live without testing him.

The third temptation is to worship that which is not God in order that we can have dominion and power in this world. This is not necessary to become a great leader but to have power over whatever we want. Jesus is once more very clear: we must serve God
alone. My sisters and brothers, Lent is a wonderful time to be honest with ourselves and to recognize that which is not yet transformed within us. We are then invited to place our lives more completely in the hands and the heart of a God who loves us
infinitely! Come, let us walk with God in this time of Lent.

Father Jesus