Stand Firm This Lent
Readings: (1st: Gen 7, 7-9. 3, 1-7; Ps 50, 3.6-17; 2nd: Rom 4, 12-19; Gos: Matt 4, 1-11)
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 of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today is the first Sunday of Lent Year A. The Church invites us to celebrate Jesus Christ the second Adam, who by the power of the Holy Spirit overcame temptation and sin. Through his obedience to the Father’s will, Christ restored the world. Therefore, ‘this season calls for great discipline, courage, vigilance, and a strong faith in God.
Today’s first reading recounts the beginning of our salvific history. It is through the disobedience of our progenitors that we all became venerable to temptation and Original Sin. This consequently led to what St. Augustine refers to as “Massa damnata” (mass damnation). From this reading, it is evident that temptation in itself is not sin. Sin is a gross act of disobedience against our Creator, and a violation of the natural order of things.
It suffices to note the stages that Eve went through before she finally succumbed to Satan. “The woman saw…that it was desirable for knowledge…She took some of the fruit and ate it.” This is the nature of our daily struggle. It is the problem of the “Id” and “Ego” that we try to satisfy every day. Many of us are so engrossed in our quest for knowledge to the extent that we are ready to go against the will and commandments of God. So, we must guard ourselves against the temptations of the evil one.
In the second reading, Paul traces the origin of sin to Adam. He highlighted the consequence of sin: “…Death spread through the human race because everyone has sinned.” This means that sin disrupts life and leads to death. It brings fear, hopelessness and shame.
However, according to Paul, we are not hopeless because: “The Divine Grace that flows from Christ” saves and acquits us. If we abide in him, we will find the strength and grace to overcome temptation and sin. Therefore, this is a season of Grace.
The gospel reminds us of the ordeal we go through every day in life. That is, the temptation we face each day. The devil, being a “spirit” often knows what we need most. So, he tempts us with it as he did to Christ. If we are hungry, he tempts us with food. If we are thirsty, he tempts us with drinks. If we like power, he tempts us with it.
If you are in need of money, the devil tempts us to steal from others. If you are in need of a job, he tempts you to offer a bribe to get a job. If you are too greedy for marks, he tempts you to cheat in your exams. Once one falls to one temptation, he continues with the next until one finally perishes. He is very subtle, and an expert in, “one step at a time!”
How was Jesus able to overcome Satan and his temptations? He overcame because, beforehand he had already fortified himself. He tamed his appetite for ambition and vainglory. Most importantly, he was not alone in his struggle against Satan and his temptations. The Holy Spirit was with him. He overcame through prayer and fasting.
So, during this season of Lent and beyond, we too must get ourselves prepared for the great journey ahead. We must be firm in prayers, and be watchful so that we do not fall to the temptations of the evil one.
Peace be with you all