We enter this season through
deepening our devotions, and acts of mercy. We seek to mold our lives
in conformity to the ways of Christ. This is why in this season, as
the Church, God's people tap the fonts of God's grace that help us to
understand the mystery of redemption.
If we want to make sense of the
meaning of redemption, we need to enter into it. We fast, we pray, we
abstain, we give alms, we do works of mercy. Especially in this
season, these observances focus our attention on an encounter with Christ
the author of our redemption.
Too often it becomes easy to
separate faith from action in our modern world. And certainly with
this pandemic, it has not gotten better. Lent offers us the
opportunity to do things differently. As we walk the way of the Lord,
we seek to become more like the Lord.
Have you ever heard of a great
athlete who became great wishing they were great? Or for that matter
a great artist, a scholar, or anyone who acquires any skill, all
require effort to become good at what they do. The old adage
is: “Practice makes perfect.”
People in our world at times
foolishly thing that faith operates without practice. It’s easy to
adopt that way of thinking. It’s part of the natural order or better
yet disorder of our spiritual nature. Lent is like a of time
training. For those preparing for baptism this is especially true.
But for all of us this is true as well.
Furthermore, this is not something
we accomplish on our own. It’s like an athlete saying that his
or her victories were a product of his or her own doing. No one
else had a hand in their success? Really? Or better yet, it’s
like a father in the delivery room saying to everyone present with
sincere honesty as he holds his new born child: “Look everyone what I
Every step of the way in our Faith,
the Lord is there to say to us that he is with us. His grace gives us
faith in our conviction, hope in our resolve, and love, the supreme
gift, that unites all our efforts to God himself. In the end it is
God that makes all things possible. What we need to do is recognize
this truth. This season can and does aid us to correct our belief
about our own disposition and ourselves.
In the midst of this pandemic, our
human nature can get into a real debate about this tendency. We can
become apathetic and despondent. That’s a real temptation. This week
we read in the Sunday Gospel the Temptation of Jesus from Mark. It’s
always good to point out a few things about this event, remembering
that Mark only has two sentences about the Temptation of Jesus.
First, we need to remember that
Jesus had just had an encounter with the Father in his own baptism.
The Spirit we are told drove him into the desert. Why? The answer is to
be tempted. Why? Because through the temptation of Satan he was able
to recognize that the Father was with him in a time of trouble.
“Angels came and ministered to him.”
We can foolishly think that
temptation is avoidable or non-existent. This is a conceit of the
self-centered. Both in our efforts to overcome temptation and in our
failures, we are confronted with a truth. God’s will is different
from ours. Do we seek our will or do we seek to be faithful to God’s
will? The choice is ours. Jesus showed us the way. Notice what
happens next in Mark’s account. “After John had been arrested, Jesus
came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of
fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in
the gospel.” After his own temptation, he could have walked away. He
didn’t. He made a choice. That choice changed the world. He showed us
the way to the Father.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Joseph B. Pierce