Stand Firm This Lent
Readings: 1st: Gen 7:7-9. 3: 1-7; Ps 50; 2nd: Rom 4:12-19; Gos: Mt 4:1-11
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: firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
Today is the first Sunday of Lent Year A. The Church invites us to celebrate Jesus Christ, ” the second Adam, ” who overcame temptation and sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Through his obedience to the Father’s will, Christ restored the world. Therefore, ‘this season calls for great discipline, courage, vigilance, and strong faith in God.
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Today’s first reading recounts the beginning of our salvific history. We all became venerable to temptation and Original Sin through the disobedience of our progenitors. Consequently, this led to what St. Augustine refers to as “Massa damnata” (mass damnation). From this reading, it is evident that temptation in itself is not a sin. A 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 a problem of the “Id” and “Ego” that we try to satisfy every day. Many of us are so engrossed in our quest for knowledge 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. That is, the temptation we face each day. Being a “spirit,” the devil 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 need money, the devil tempts us to steal from others. If you need 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 must prepare ourselves for the ultimate journey. We must be firm in prayers and watchful so that we do not fall to the temptations of the evil one.
Peace be with you all