Fr. Matt’s Message – First Sunday of Lent

Each year as we start the Lenten season many of us struggle with the question of what to do, what sacrifices to make, what spiritual exercise to undertake.  What can I do that will bring more depth into my spiritual life? Often the question boils down to this: What should I give up for Lent?  Don’t get me wrong, giving something up is a great practice as one part of this season of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.  But I wonder if we can become so accustomed to Lent as a time when we are to deprive ourselves of something, that we might miss out on an opportunity for something more?     

If we place all if our focus on personal sacrifice, there is a subtle temptation that the most important thing we can do for our spiritual lives is actually something that we can do ourselves. Scripture reminds us that without God we can do nothing. Perhaps that should be our starting point – realizing our complete dependence upon God for everything.

These Lenten days give us an opportunity to allow God to be God in our lives. One Lenten task might be to allow God more space each day so God can do the work in us the way that God knows we need. Now, this might mean that, on our part, we do need to give up something or make sacrifices to create some space that might allow God to enter our lives in a deeper fashion.

So we might very well ask ourselves: What is taking up too much space in my life? What is blocking God from being God for me? What barriers need to be overcome? Where can we find a little more dedicated quiet time and space to be still and find nourishment for our deeper spiritual needs.

In the Scriptures that place is described as a desert or a wilderness. “The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.”

The wilderness is not always a pleasant place to be.  If we stay there long enough, we very well may come face to face with our own demons. God will be with us and will bring power into the darkest parts of our lives. God will never leave us alone with the wild beasts.  

Pope Francis reminds us that “The Church offers us the Lenten practices of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting as a soothing remedy.” Maybe our answer to what remedy we are in need of, or what we should give up for Lent, will only come during Lent or even near the end of this 4o day journey. 

If we create enough space for God to enter our lives, God will continue to gently reveal Himself to us. Then we will bring more of this newfound life to the Eucharist at Easter. The resurrection of Jesus will have become our resurrection as we rise out of our darkness into the wonderful light of Christ.

Blessings on your Lenten journey.

With love and prayers,

Fr. Matt