The Seminarian’s Musings
Dear Family in the Lord,
Yet again the Church clothes herself in violet, the color of penance, as she takes up the great fast of Lent. So much of Lent is about restraint. The Liturgy is starker than usual. The Gloria and the Alleluia, which become so familiar to us, are withheld during this time. Our music is not as joyful and calls us to repent. All of this outward austerity calls us to look within, to examine our consciences, and to reunite ourselves with the God from whom we so often separate ourselves. In a sense, we are in the desert. Because it is when we remove all of these “distractions” that we can focus on what really matters.
On Wednesday we were marked with ashes, accepting the challenge to repent and turn away from sin. By now the faint black mark has probably been washed away, but we should keep it in mind as we continue these forty days. Today’s readings should help us do that. As we hear in the first reading about the story of the Fall in Genesis, we are reminded that our pride is at the root of all our sins. We want it our way, don’t we? That’s what the serpent tricked Eve into thinking—if you eat this fruit, you’ll have it your way, and not God’s way. Thus, sin entered the world. But that’s not the end of the story, because St. Paul reminds us in the second reading that just as sin entered the world through the disobedience of one man, forgiveness came through the obedience of one man, Jesus Christ. This gives us reason to hope because even though we feel the effects of sin every day in our own lives and in the world, we know that Jesus Christ conquered sin and opened up the way for us to return to God.
Jesus brings this home for us in the gospel, where he himself is tempted by Satan. The devil tempts Jesus much in the same way he tempted Adam and Eve, with food and with power. Jesus rebukes Satan and asserts that the only true food and true power come from God alone, and not from ourselves. We should place ourselves in Jesus’ shoes (or sandals!), and look at the things and behaviors that we are tempted by, and rebuke the one who tempts us. In these days of Lent, these days in the desert, may we attempt to remove all of those things that distract us from Christ—we know what they are—and may our prayer be that of the psalmist, “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”
Until next week,