Reflections - March 5, 2017

“You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”  Mt. 4:7
 
Lent began on Ash Wednesday.  We received ashes on our forehead as a sign of our limitations and human frailties.  It is also a time of reconciliation with God and with our neighbor through three attitudes of piety:  almsgiving, fasting, and prayer.
 
The example to follow during Lent is the temptations of Jesus in the solitude of the desert for forty days.
 
Jesus had no sins, but He prayed and fasted.  The holiness of Christ is the reflection of the holiness of God himself, “He is the visible image of the invisible God”.  The fathers of the Church say, “He is the image of the goodness of God”, and as the Dogma of the Church says, “He is true God and true Man”, similar to us with free will and human freedom minus sin.  By becoming one like us He assimilated and redeemed our poverty, loneliness and weakness.  After making this clarification we can understand the temptations of Jesus.
 
Jesus Christ as man was tempted by idolatry.  There were present the great idols that accompany men and women in their journey through this world:  the power to satisfy the body, particularly “the unrestrained enjoyment and self complacency”.  Jesus’ response is clear:  “One does not live by bread alone”….”.  Because when we are united to God “with our spirit and heart”, all the offerings of this world, no matter how grand and beautiful, are secondary.
 
Another temptation:  “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me”.  This is the temptation of power and wealth in which we live in our social environment.  It is with sorrow that we see the inconsistency of people who sell their conscience and betray their ethical and moral values to worship the prince of lies….becoming blind and deaf.  However the response of the Lord is clear:  “The Lord, your God, shall your worship and him alone shall you serve”.  Jesus chose to reign by obedience to God and service to the needy.  The Second Reading tells it well:  “For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous”.  Rom 5:19.
 
Let us pray to the Lord on this First Sunday of Lent to convert us by changing our mentality to overcome the temptations of selfishness and injustice.  A good work of mercy would be to practice almsgiving, fasting, and prayer, and to remember the practice of examining your conscience before going to bed to act with upright intention in decisions to obey God “denying yourself” and practicing justice and service to your neighbor.