LENTEN SEASON: A JOURNEY TOWARDS VICTORY AND SALVATION
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details contact him on:firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
On Ash Wednesday we began our journey with Christ. As a journey that will last for about six and half weeks, the Lenten season presents us with the opportunity of re-enacting and re-living the Paschal mystery of Christ. It exposes us to other dimensions of life, and thus, equips us for the glory of Easter. This first Sunday of Lent therefore, starts on a joyful note by the readings bringing to our minds concepts like salvation and victory over sin. These remind us of the need to praise God for the great wonders he worked for our fathers in faith, and for his outstretched arms which through our participation this lent will be extended to us.
The first reading from Deut. 26, 4-10, begins with a very brief account by Moses of how God delivered their ancestors from bondage in the land of Egypt. This therefore reminds us of our own salvific journey. We are on a journey this lent to our salvation and the hope of this salvation should be our anchor and sustenance. The second reading from Rom10, 8-13 presents another dimension to this journey towards salvation. It presents faith as a necessary tool which must be manifested through our confession. Without faith therefore, it becomes practically impossible to get to the end of the journey. Faith in this case could be likened to the energy that motivates us as we march on. If along this journey this season we become weary, turning to Jesus is the only option available to us. Calling upon him in faith, we shall find the strength to continue. We cannot prevail in this journey by our own strength alone. An Igbo adage says: “Ngwele hapu osisi aka akpara ya” (if the lizard neglects the tree it will be captured).
This season therefore, we are to be mindful of the fact that temptations abound, just as our lord was tempted today by the devil in Luke 4, 1-13. It is significant to note that the tempter is always looking for a point of contact or weakness. He cannot succeed if no avenues are opened to him. Once the devil realized that Jesus was hungry he felt it was an opportunity to get him, but he misfired. We must not give the devil any chance this season. Therefore let us close all avenues in the course of this journey by bearing the sign: ROAD CLOSED! Or NO VACANCY! The avenues that must be closely guarded this season as the temptation of Christ teaches us include: hunger and thirst for sin; cheap popularity; vain glory, pride, and un-necessary show of oneself. They are obstacles to salvation and victory. Finally, as Paul writes: “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal they are mighty through God for pulling down Strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4). Our weapons must include faith, prayer, uprightness, and the word of God because “we do not fight this season against flesh and blood but, against powers of this dark age…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm” (Eph 6, 10-12). Above all, we must allow the Holy Spirit to be in charge by being docile to Him. Trusting in the arm of our own flesh will not help us because it will definitely fail us. Let us therefore pray with the psalmist: “Be with me, O Lord in my distress” (Ps.90, 15) and he will do for us through Christ what he did for our fathers in faith.
Peace be with you!