A Journey Towards Victory and Salvation
Readings: 1st: Deut 26, 4-10; Ps: 90; 2nd: Rom 10, 8-13; Gos: Lk 4, 1-13
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 the opportunity to re-live 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 starts on a hopeful and joyful note. The readings bring into view concepts like faith, salvation, and victory over sin. These remind us of the need to praise God for the great wonders he worked for our fathers in the faith. Through our participation in this Lent, God is ready to extend the same wonders to us.
The first reading begins with a very brief account from Moses about how God delivered His chosen people Israel from bondage in the land of Egypt. Therefore, this reminds us of our salvific journey. This Lenten season, we are on a journey to our salvation. The hope of this salvation must sustain us throughout this season and beyond.
The second reading presents another dimension to this journey towards salvation. It offers faith as a necessary tool that must be manifested through our confessions. Without faith, it will be practically impossible to reach our destination. Faith, in this case, is the energy that motivates us as we march on. If we become weary along this journey this season, turning to Jesus is the best option available to us. If we call upon Him in faith, we shall find the strength to continue. We cannot prevail in this journey by our power alone.
Therefore, this season, we must be mindful that temptations abound, just as our Lord was tempted today by the devil in our gospel. It is important to note that the tempter is always looking for a point of contact or weakness. Once the devil realized that Christ was very hungry, he felt it was an opportunity to use Him. However, the good news is that the devil was wrong because Christ did not give him the chance to use Him. Hence, the devil cannot succeed with us, too, if we do not open avenues for him in our lives.
We must not give the devil any chance this season and in our entire lifetime. Therefore, let us close all the avenues in the course of this journey by wearing the sign: “Road Closed or No Vacancy Here!” The avenues that must be closely guarded this season as the temptation of Christ teaches us to include: The avenues of hunger and thirst for sin, the highway of cheap popularity, vainglory, pride, and selfishness. These are obstacles to our spiritual growth and salvation.
As Paul writes: “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are mighty through God for pulling down Strongholds (2 Cor 10:4). Our weapons this season must include a firm faith in God, prayer, uprightness, good works, and the word of God. This is because: “We do not fight” (this season only) against flesh and blood. But, against powers of this dark age and 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.
Finally, trusting in the arm of our flesh will not help us this season. This is because it might fail us. This season, God is absolutely ready to do for us what He did for our fathers in faith in ancient times through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, together with the psalmist today, let us unceasingly implore the Lord saying: “Be with me, O Lord, in my distress.”
Peace be with you!