1ST SUNDAY OF LENT (B).
JESUS PREVAILED OVER THE TEMPTATIONS.
Through baptism we were saved as Noah and his own in the ark (1st and 2nd readings). In this time of Lent, we need to rekindle our baptismal grace.
- Lent should not be considered as a sad and obscure season, nor should it be reduced to superficial and trivial acts of penance.
- Rather, Lent is a gift from God who in His great Mercy, offers us this wonderful time to rekindle our baptismal grace through profound conversion, which involves a radical change of attitude and of heart to acknowledge God in all his majesty, goodness, kindness, mercy, and love. As St. Paul said in the 2nd reading: “It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.”
For this we have to be truly contrite and be sorry in our hearts for our sins so as to pave the way to believe in the Gospel.
- Thus we see in the Gospel Jesus in the desert for forty days, allowing himself be tempted by Satan, living among the wild beasts and served by the angels. With His example, He inaugurated the practice of our Lenten penance and taught us to overcome the force of sin, rejecting the temptations of the enemy (Preface).
St. Mark briefly narrates to us the tempting of Jesus. St Matthew (4: 1-11) and St Luke (4: 1-13) relate the temptations of Jesus in more detail.
- By submitting to temptation, Jesus wanted to show us that we should not be afraid of temptations: on the contrary, they give us an opportunity to progress in the interior life. With the help of His grace and following His example of prayer and of sacrifice, we shall prevail over evil and grow in our love for God.
- As St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori wrote: “Yet the Lord sometimes permits that souls, which are dear to him, should be tempted with some violence in order that they may better understand their own weakness, and the necessity of grace to prevent them from falling …; God permits us to be tempted, that we may be more detached from the things of earth, and conceive a more ardent desire to behold him in heaven …; God also permits us to be tempted, in order to increase our merits … When it is disturbed by temptation, and sees itself in danger of committing sin, the soul has recourse to the Lord and to his divine Mother; it renews its determination to die rather than offend God; it humbles itself and takes refuge in the arms of divine mercy. By this means, as is proved by experience, it acquires more strength and is united more closely to God” (The love of our Lord Jesus Christ reduced to practice, chap. 17).
Furthermore, as in our Lord’s own case, we should be convinced that we will always have God’s help to overcome temptation:
- “Jesus has stood up to the test. And it was a real test … The devil, with twisted intention, quoted the Old Testament: ‘God will send his angels to protect the just man wherever he goes’ (Ps 91:11). But Jesus refuses to tempt his Father; he restores true meaning to this passage from the Bible. And, as a reward for his fidelity, when the time comes, ministers of God the Father appear and wait upon him …We have to fill ourselves with courage, for the grace of God will not fail us. God will be at our side and will send his angels to be our travelling companions, our prudent advisers along the way, our cooperators in all that we take on” (St. Josemaria, Christ is passing by, 63).
The 1st Sunday of Lent is an invitation for us to rejoice for with Jesus who overcame the temptations of the devil, we begin our journey towards Easter. He gave us an example to overcome our enemies and assures us of His divine help.
If we do as Jesus did, Lent for us will surely be a time of abundant divine grace, consequence of letting ourselves be reconciled with God, repenting and asking God’s forgiveness for our sins to experience His love and mercy through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us also ask the Father: “Renewed now with heavenly bread that nourishes faith, inspires hope, and deepens charity, we pray, O Lord, that we may learn to hunger for Christ, the true and living Bread and strive to live by every word which comes to us from your mouth. ” (Prayer after Communion).
Fr. Rolly Arjonillo.