We celebrate today the first Sunday in the season of Lent. We began the season with the marking of ashes; reminding us of both our mortality and our need to renew our lives and so if we truly entered into this season with those two things in mind, we should be ready for humble introspection and reflection. That too, is an important part of this season for all of us. It is part of the circle of life.
The circle of life happens whether we want it to or not; we are born, we grow quickly absorbing, learning, growing, developing until we reach full growth and then while the growth and development may slow down, it is either made sweet and healthy by humble reflection and introspection or it’s made bitter/maybe bittersweet by scepticism, cynicism and pessimism. We are either filled with hope or mired in hopelessness.
Friends, Lent is about wanting the best for ourselves and for each other. If we’re mindful that death will come to us all, we aren’t meant to be dire, downcast or gloomy about this, but to realize we’re on a timeline and while we ought to appreciate, enjoy and savour our lives – we are called to live the lives we’ve been given with meaning and purpose. If we acknowledge we are called to “turn away from sin [selfishness and living for ourselves in the moment] and turn towards the [hope-filled] Gospel; our lives get better and our lives stay better!
That is the foundation, the fertile ground I hope we are all allowing ourselves to be rooted in as we begin Lent. In today’s Gospel, we hear of Jesus in His desert experience, taking on temptation and suffering, being pulled away from God and remaining committed and resolved to stay close to the Father. We hear of His temptation in the desert followed by His Proclamation that begins a Lenten experience for Him and His followers. Believing in the Gospel comes with a price. Turning away from sin doesn’t make life easy in any way. Meeting temptation with resolve is not an easy thing to do. All three of these statements are absolutely true and they ought to be essential and real statements for the Christian; for the Disciples of our Lord. They are true, they are not easy to swallow – but they are only part of the story. The greatest part of the Christian “story” or life is in what is received. That – is more profoundly great than absolutely anything given by us for it. We have to remember that.
As we prepare this Lent for more humble introspection and reflection, let us stop and consider our own lives lived up to this very moment in time and let us ask ourselves what more are we prepared to do, to receive the love of God and a deeper faith into our hearts, minds and souls.