Pope Francis in his Lenten message invites us to “renew our faith, draw from the living waters of hope, and receive with open hearts the love of God.” He says, “Accepting and living the truth revealed in Christ means, first of all, opening our hearts to God’s word.” Through fasting, “experienced as a form of self-denial,” we will be able “to rediscover God’s gift and recognize that, created in His image and likeness, we find our fulfillment in Him.” Let us live the faith, hope, and love.
Do you think there is an evil spirit in the world? Yes, there is. This weekends reading invites us to reflect on our daily life and its challenges. Are we tempted to do…..or to say….or to see….or to listen to the devil? If so, each of us proved ourselves as a human being. But Lent invites us to overcome these temptations through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. During the lent, we reflect how Jesus defeated every circumstance that Adam and Eve; and the Israelites failed. Lent is a time to set aside our fear and focus on Jesus.
Every year on the first Sunday of Lent, we reflect on the temptation of Jesus. This year we have from the Gospel of Mark. In the Gospel of Mark, right after the Baptism of the Lord, the same Spirit who descended on Jesus in his baptism drives him into the desert for forty days. Jesus, the new Adam, was tempted by Satan among the wild beasts, as the first Adam was tempted amid the beasts in paradise.
In the new exodus, Jesus was being led by the Spirit into the wilderness and tested for forty days. In the old exodus, the Israelites spent forty years in the desert and tested. The presence of ministering angels to sustain Jesus in the new Exodus, recalls the angel who guided the Israelites in the desert in the first Exodus. We read in the book of Exodus 23:20, “See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared.”
The new Adam, Jesus, through His filial love for the Father brought forth the new Israel of God there where Adam and Israel’s rebellion had brought death and alienation. Jesus began the campaign against demons, death, and diseases in the desert, and continues through his proclamation of the Gospel. Jesus trained his disciples on how to overcome the devil.
I am sure everyone experiences every time we renew our Baptismal promise and try to live it, the tempter attacks more aggressively than before. Jesus assures us on this lent that the victory is ours through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We would increase your prayer to grow in the virtue of humility, intensify our giving of alms to detach from the possessions, fast to overcome attachments, and recognize our own poverty.
During this lent, I would like to invite everyone prays for one family. It could be your neighbor. Pray for them these forty days, and during the Holy week present a lit candle to them and let them know you were praying for them. It will brighten their life, our life and with this warmth and light, it will be beautiful to celebrate Easter.