February 16, 2016
This weekend we celebrate the Second Sunday of Lent. We have to locate and understand the readings and liturgy in the context of what we heard last week. There we saw Jesus tempted, here we see him glorified. There we saw him in his human state, here we see his divinity revealed.
But this is not just about Jesus. It’s about us too. The readings of last Sunday and this tell us who we really are as well. We are tempted but we too can share in the divine life. The difference lies in this: what Jesus is in his nature we are by grace. He is God’s eternally begotten Son. We are God’s adopted children.
The proof of this adoption is not in a piece of paper or in a court decree but rather in our baptism. At the font we were reborn as God’s sons and daughters. This is why Lent is a time when we recall our baptism and renew that new life. Lent is also the time when those who are seeking to join the Church at Easter are prepared for the new life it brings.
At the Easter Vigil we will renew our baptismal promises. We will be sprinkled as a sign of that wonderful sacrament in which we became in truth and in fact the sons and daughters of God, the coheirs of his Kingdom.
February 16, 2016
This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent. As with every other year the readings this weekend and next should be taken together. This Sunday we see Christ tempted, and next Sunday we see him transfigured. This tells us both about the Lord we believe in, but also about the people we are called to be.
In today’s gospel we see the devil displaying all his wiles to outwit Our Lord as he tries to tempt him into sin. Jesus is robust in his replies. He sees through the devil and drives him away. During the liturgy of baptism, and at the Easter Vigil, we are asked him we reject Satan and all his empty promises. We can be confident of doing so, not because of our own strength, but because Jesus has overcome the devil for us. If we rely on him and on his grace then we too can dismiss Satan and his false promises.
Our Lenten observance is aimed at strengthening our faith and our love. We undertake fasting, prayer and almsgiving so we can see more clearly where the truth lies and where falsehood lurks. As we begin our Lenten journey let us take heart from Jesus, true God and true man, who is tempted but does not fall.
February 5, 2016
It seems difficult to believe but next Wednesday is actually the start of Lent. Easter is very early this year so our penance starts earlier than usual too.
Ash Wednesday tells us the truth about our human condition: ‘Dust you are and unto dust you shall return’. No wealth, no fame, no healthy diet will save us from this inevitable fate. The modern world finds this very difficult to accept and beguiles us with promises we know are false. We need to face up to reality and the imposition of ashes makes us do just that.
But this is not the only truth about our human condition. The Liturgy also tells us to ‘Repent and believe the Good News’. And what good news it is – we are called to share in the eternal, divine life of God. Jesus, the Son of God, comes to make that life available to us. Throughout Lent we will ponder what that means. At the end, during the Triduum, we will live it out.
Lent is a journey to Easter. Whatever penance we undertake should enable us to celebrate Easter more fully. We are called to fasting, prayer and almsgiving to prepare us for the great feast of the resurrection. We might be dust but we are not only dust. We are dust that will be transformed and transfigured.