THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT 2013
Here we are at the first Sunday of Lent at the end of what can only be termed as an extraordinary week, or as one person put it to me that was the week that was and from my perspective this certainly was true. With the Pope’s Resignation on Monday I think most of the Catholic world was left a bit gob-smacked to say the least as this was the first time that a pope had resigned in 600 years. In less than two weeks time the Catholic Community throughout the world will be like sheep without a shepherd as the Pope resigns the See of Peter at 8pm on the 28th of February. We pray for the outgoing Pope Benedict 16th that he will have a good retirement and we also pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire the Cardinals in their choice when we come to the conclave in March. Meantime the year of faith continues as we stop to think about the readings for this Sunday.
We are now as you know in the liturgical season of Lent, preparing for Easter, at this time three things are traditionally recommended to us: Prayer, Fasting & Almsgiving. Lent is a time of sober reflection, reassessment and rededication of our lives to God and to the faith we profess. We review our lives, seek forgiveness, do penance and recommit ourselves to Christ. This is all done within the context of the Passion of the Lord, which we are constantly reminded of during Lent as we build up to the solemn re-enactment of the passion and resurrection of Christ during Holy Week and Easter. The forty days of Lent is the people of Gods annual retreat in imitation and remembrance of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness. We are called to journey with the Lord in a particular way with prayer, fasting, almsgiving, repentance, and renewal as we prepare to celebrate the feast of Easter, the Christian Passover. The Lord gives us spiritual food and supernatural strength to seek his face and to prepare ourselves for spiritual combat and testing. We, too, must follow in the way of the cross in order to share in the victory of Christ’s death and resurrection.
As human beings, we will always be confronted with the temptation to do wrong. We are going to be tempted to seek joy in places where the Lord is not found and there may well be no longterm joy or happiness. In our Gospel reading for today Jesus himself was tempted by the devil to accept the pleasures of the world rather than remain united to the Father. The temptations of Jesus in the dessert point back to the temptations of Israel in the past, and point forward to the trials that the Church and all its members will undergo in the future. It is now we who are in the wilderness, with no lasting city, on a long journey to the Promised Land.Even to our dying day each trial that life brings is a crisis, but is also an opportunity to trust more completely that the Lord is with us, and that we do love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our might. All of us should be confident that we will triumph in our trials of faith, not because of our own strength, but because Jesus has given us his holy Spirit to be with us. As we begin this holy season let’s ask the Lord for a fresh outpouring of his Holy Spirit that we may grow in faith, hope, and love, and embrace his will more fully in our lives. Then we can pray with confidence in the words our saviour has given us: Our Father, do not let us be defeated by temptation, but deliver us from the evil one