Tuesday September 30, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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Forty days of lent

Ministerial Moment
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The three Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all relate the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness, or in the desert, immediately after His baptism at the hands of John the Baptist. While there in the desert for forty days and nights, all three gospels relate how Jesus was tempted by the devil. Mark simply makes this observation, while Matthew and Luke give us some details as to how Satan tried to tempt Jesus in taking short-cuts to achieve His mission. From its earliest traditions, Christianity has observed a period of penitential disciplines and sacrifices, of prayer and fasting, in the direct imitation of Jesus' solitude in the desert before beginning His public ministry.

Hence, our forty days of Lent, of spiritual preparation for the celebration of Easter, are intended not only to help us identify with Jesus' fasting and prayer in the desert, but also with our Hebrew ancestors' wandering in the desert for forty years after their deliverance from their slavery in Egypt and before their entrance into the Promised Land. Before we celebrate Christ's victory over sin and death at Easter, the season of Lent helps us to reflect upon the reality and experience of sin and how Christ helps us to conquer it with the help of His grace and mercy.

Whatever Lenten devotions and practices that we adopt to help us to grow spiritually, including fasting and other forms of bodily sacrifices, strengthen us to become more conformed to the example of Christ. Several times in the Gospels, Jesus challenges us to take our cross daily in the imitation of His willingness to suffer and to die for us. The cross of Christ leads us to a greater solidarity with His life poured out in the service of others, and with all those who suffer greatly in this life. The more we can live our lives in the imitation of Christ, then the words of St. Paul resonate within us: "It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me."

Through our Lenten observance, we are to become more like Christ in all that we do, say and are; so that we might reflect His life and presence to all those we encounter. May the light of Christ truly radiate through all our conversations and activities, as we continue abiding in Him as He abides in us. May Christ help us to show His merciful compassion and forgiveness to everyone, especially those in greatest need of God's goodness and love. May the strength of Christ be evident in the courage by which we live out our faith in the faithfulness and service we exercise always in the midst of life's daily challenges.


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