First Sunday of Lent
Today is the first Sunday of Lent, the season of repentance, of turning back to the Lord’s plan for us, of preparing for or recalling our baptismal commitment. We can ask God for the grace to see our lives afresh: “Who am I, Lord, and how can I praise, love, and serve you best?” Today’s readings help us focus. Genesis reminds us of our origin: God created us out of clay, Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans consoles us. The Gospel of Matthew astonishes us by showing how God chose to become like us, even allowing the devil to tempt him with the very sins that we battle. Our gracious God knows exactly what our lives are like. God wants to accompany us and show us how to be happy forever.
THE ONE AND ONLY LENT
No matter how many Lenten seasons we’ve experienced, we can embark on this year’s journey as if it is the only Lent we will ever have. We can pray, fast, and offer sacrifices in specific, generous ways. Jesus is our model. Jesus spared nothing of himself when he went into the desert for forty days and forty nights. He didn’t bring along computer games to divert himself or a stockpile of snacks for emergencies. No, Jesus was all in. The Gospel tells us that the devil waited till after the forty days of sacrifice to ambush Jesus. Just when our Lord was at his weakest, frail with hunger, the devil came to tempt him. Relying on the Word of God, Jesus resisted all temptations. Then, and only then, did angels come to minister to Jesus. If we imitate Jesus and go all in this Lent, we can expect to suffer. We can also depend upon God to send help just exactly when we need it.
WE’RE WORTH IT
When we commit ourselves to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving this Lent, we will encounter obstacles. The devil hates to see us grow closer to God. Even if our Lenten progress is microscopic, the devil wants to thwart us. We are God’s beloved children, so we are valuable. We are worth the devil’s time. Expect difficulty. Expect obstacles. Expect temptation. Above all, expect God’s unfailing help. Staying close to God’s Word will strengthen us, as it strengthened Jesus in the desert. Today’s Gospel shows us that Jesus desires to accompany us, especially in our weakest and most difficult moments. Whatever temptations we face, Jesus understands. Whatever sacrifices we make, Jesus offers them with us. Whatever goodness we show to encourage others, our Lord rejoices with all the angels and saints. Let us approach this Lent as if it is the only Lent we will ever have. God wants to do great things for us in this holy season.
Today’s Readings: Gn 2:7–9; 3:1–7; Ps 51:3–6, 12–13, 17; Rom 5:12–19 [12, 17–19]; Mt 4:1–11