Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent By Fr Fretch Ballesteros SDV
First Sunday of Lent
Last Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, we formally began our Lenten journey. For some it feels as if we are just doing an annual liturgical change, or shall I say a normal annual routine. It is just like being aware that the Lenten season is coming, that it will soon finish after few weeks, then the Easter season will come and go. As Christian believers we always need to go back to some basic questions. What is Lent for me? How can I prepare myself to have a good Lenten journey? How does the season of Lent help me to enrich my spiritual life? What are the practical things that I must observe and do, so that I can deepen my personal relationship with Jesus and my relationship with everyone around me?
Our readings for this Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, allow us to reflect and prepare ourselves for these 40 days of Lenten journey. The gospel reading specifically invites us to adopt the strength and the confidence of Jesus in battling against temptations in life. We have been presented with the account of Jesus being led by the Spirit to the wilderness. He is in the wilderness not just for a day or two, but for forty days; and not to relax or to hide from the reality of life, but to fast and to pray. During this time, as we heard from the Gospel, Jesus is being tempted by the devil. This is the first message for us as we enter the season of Lent; that we too are called to spend some time in the wilderness of our lives. This wilderness can be interpreted as being part of many circumstances of our human lives. But, like Jesus, we are encouraged to spend this time in fasting and prayer, using it as the opportunity to grow in our spiritual lives. The Lenten season for us should be a time to master ourselves in prayer, gain the humility to offer sacrifices (fasting and abstinence) and to share our goods (charity) with our brothers and sisters.
The second message, for us, is that we are being reminded of the many temptations that will come our way to challenge our faith and trust in God. Each temptation that is presented to us in the gospel offers insight into our own human condition. Human as we are, all of us are subject to being tempted by the devil. However, our focus should not be on those temptations that might come our way, but rather on the examples that our Lord Jesus has shown in how he outsmarts the devil in every temptation presented to him. Jesus did not only battle those temptations with his own strength and confidence, but, above all, in his relationship with the Word of God (Scripture) and his total trust in God’s providence and protection. This is how we should prepare ourselves in this season of Lent; enriching our lives in the Word of God, the Scripture, and deepening our faith by our sense of trust in God’s divine help for us.
As we start our journey through Lent, let us pray in a very special way for the grace to really acquire the confidence and strength that Jesus had when facing temptations. Let us draw our strength from the Word of God and remind ourselves that God will rescue those who call for his help.