THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
“God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.”
As we celebrated Ash Wednesday, the ashes reminded us that we are dust and unto dust we shall return. This encouraged us to humbly make contrition of our sins and hurriedly seek for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
But sin, in our 21st century contemporary society, has been denied, camouflaged, psychoanalyzed and repressed; giving a justification to accepting it and not to confess it. The usual misleading perception is, “We don’t really sin...we rather make mistakes in judgment.” I think this is a temptation of hypnosis!
To take such scales from our eyes, the Lenten season offers us the golden opportunity to look at such temptations, sin and the consequences. During this period, we are challenged to die to sin so that we may rise again to new life in Christ. It gives us a time that reminds us of the human journey of fall and redemption. In Lent we reflect on themes like temptation, sin, guilt and forgiveness.
The first reading highlights ”Original Temptation,” symbolized by the eating of the forbidden fruit. This story of the first sin committed by Adam and Eve focuses on the choice God gave them. The fundamental choice was to live for God, to be dependent upon and obedient to His will. Their faithlessness led them to sin.
Beloved in Christ, temptations are part of our condition as human beings. It is a temptation when we attempt to serve our inordinate desires from within ourselves. There are also temptations posed by the world and the people around us. In all of these, there is a choice to make. As Christians, we need to rely on the faithful word of God. Although we are tempted and often succumb, God’s grace provides the way of salvation for us.
Paul, in the second reading, admonishes that sin is never a private affair affecting only you. When we sin all our relationships are affected: our inner self, God, family and friends, nature and the world we live in. He compares human sin and it's consequences to Christ's salvific action and it's restorative effects on humankind. Though we sin, we still enjoy the rehabilitation of the grace of God as we open up to Him.
So the Psalmist presents our acknowledgement of our guilt before God, ”Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.” - Psalm 51
The Gospel reading teaches us about the ”desert experience” of fasting, praying and soul-strengthening as a spiritual journey that enabled Jesus to confront temptation successfully and to preach the good news.
As Christians, to overcome our temptations, we need to confront our evil tendencies with prayer (regularly going for Holy Mass). You have to seek reconciliation and do your penance frequently. Develop a habitual meditative attitude of reading the Word of God. Learn to share what you have with others. Grow in holiness in prayer, offer humble service, give alms and help those in need.
Remember, God has not given up on you yet. He is still working and walking with you. You are never alone. Christ Offers Forgiveness For Everyone Everywhere (COFFEE). Think about this!
Whooo Hooo! Winter is gradually ending. Are you ready for the Spring?
See you in church. Love you.
Fr. Emmanuel hails from Ghana and is passionate about the Gospel and bringing the love of Christ to all people. He speaks several languages, enjoys soccer and cooking, and loves St. Francis of Assisi.