• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Saturday, 29 February 2020 12:00

First Sunday of Lent - 2020

Written by Fr Frank Gerry SVD

 

First Sunday of Lent 2020

 

Fr Frank Gerry SVD 150Introduction:

The desert was a symbol of deep significance for the Israelites as well as for early Christians.

For the Israelites,

• it was a place of trial and temptation, but also
• a place where their God, Yahweh, revealed
His name to them,
• entered into a covenant with them, and
• gave them an identity and a destiny;
• It is also a symbol of renewal: “I will lure her out into the desert and speak to her heart” (Hosea, 2:14).

For the early Christians,

• The desert was a place they flocked to in their thousands in the fourth and fifth centuries as they fled the corruption of the Roman Empire that had now become an ally of the Roman Christian Church.

1.
Many years ago in a class studying the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the early Church, a guest lecturer, Brother David Steindl Rast, who was a hermit, said to us, “Don’t go into the desert unless the Spirit takes you there; and if you find yourself in the desert, be sure you know your resources.”

Brother David was a hermit, so he knew what he was talking about – demons emerge in isolated, unstructured places; and as well, there are the illusions we carry there that the desert air and isolation will quickly challenge.

Today’s gospel story tells us that Jesus, after his baptism by the Jordan, was led immediately into the desert by the Spirit. There he was to understand what his people went through in their forty years wandering the desert – their trials and temptations. The Spirit fired Jesus in the furnace of their trials and temptations. If he was to be their teacher, their healer, he needed to know their trials, know a solidarity with them.

From the gospel reading of that experience, we know Jesus knew his resources (cf. Mt. 4, 1-11):

Man or woman does not live by bread alone
but by the word of God.

God alone shall you worship!

You shall not tempt the Lord your God!

2.
May I ask then: Do we know our resources?

When we find ourselves in situations that test us, that are like desert experiences: for example, the loss of a loved one, unemployment, bad health, a broken marriage, a broken relationship; or a tempting situation that threatens to undermine our integrity, do we know our resources? For example,

Relationships that are supportive and nourishing:
Family, friends, the community of faith.

Inner strength: do we have a sense of our own inner strength?
Do we know what we really believe in?

In hard times, we discover our true friends. In hard times, we find out what we really believe in, and what is worth fighting for.

I remember another hermit who said to me, “When the storm rages around you and you feel as though everything is collapsing, then hold on to what you know to be true beyond a shadow of a doubt. That will see you through to calmer times.”

Surely, hope in the faithfulness of God would be one such truth. This is what held Jesus in his agony in the garden and on the cross.

This is the prayer of the heart! The Spirit prays for us there when we don’t know how to pray. This is our faith and our hope!

Conclusion:

We are in the season of Lent. We are asked to repent and believe in the gospel. That was said to us on Ash Wednesday. It is the acknowledgement of our need for the power of Christ’s redemption to be effective in our lives. So we are asked to dig deeper into our true selves: that we have been created in the image and likeness of God, and through baptism have become a Christian, empowered by the Spirit of Christ. We are asked to live more out of the consciousness and empowerment of our true identity and dignity.

So it is this spirit that animates us!

When we say, ‘I am a sinner, Lord have mercy’, which might be a refrain of Lent, let us say it in a way that does not belittle our dignity, that does not put us down, for God is not glorified by self-abasement! Jesus does not want this. We know this from knowing him. We know it from his parables of the Prodigal Son, the Lost Sheep, and other teaching. That is something we know for sure.

It is the true image of ourselves we want to enhance during the season of Lent. And in doing so, we want to give glory to God and to Christ our Redeemer.

 

 

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