February 22, 2012

Today is Ash Wednesday, which begins the holy season of Lent. After sprucing myself up health-wise with my January diet (I haven’t gained any of the pounds back yet, even with my Vegas weekend!), I’ve been looking forward to the arrival of Lent as a time for some much-needed introspection and a taking stock of where I am spiritually. Lots of people find the season a perfect opportunity for prayer and introspection, and I’m no different. Recognizing the temptations in your life that threaten to distance you from God and God’s desire for your life is a focal point of Lent, and Fr. Joseph Pellegrino’s homily on this topic is offered in a spirit of hope and confidence in God being there for us whenever we need Him – if we’re willing to swallow our pride and ego, and recognize that without God we are powerless in the face of sin and temptation:

As we begin Lent and relate the forty days the Lord spent in the desert to the forty days of Lent, we also can relate tests that we have had or may still have in our lives. Perhaps some of us can say that we were strengthened by a successful fight against temptation. Now, we shouldn’t go around looking for temptation, that would be putting ourselves in the occasion of sin, but if we ever are tempted, we are ready. We have beaten it off before and we can beat it off again. We need to have confidence in ourselves, and more important, confidence in the Lord who is preparing us to do battle for Him.

We’re ready, but we are not ready just because we say so. We are ready because we have been given the power to withstand all assaults on our spiritual lives. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is presented after the devil left as being with the wild beasts as the angel’s ministered to him. Perhaps there is a reflection here of Psalm 91:11-13: For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the asp and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon.

Maybe Mark is addressing his gospel to the Christians at Rome who had already experienced the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul and the persecution of Nero, and is saying to them, “even among these beasts of Romans, God is protecting you.” What the Lord is telling us is that in the face of forces wishing to destroy our spiritual lives, there is an infinitely stronger force who will protect us. Leopards, wild boars, bears and jackals roamed the desert where the Lord was praying but they couldn’t hurt him. The angels ministered to him. Materialism, hedonism, and religious indifference roam the places where we live and are tested. But no forces can destroy our spiritual lives. The Power of Christ is with us. The Holy Spirit who was with Jesus in the wilderness is with us. Nothing can take the spiritual from us. We can only give it away by giving up and giving in.

And speaking of Mark’s Gospel, if this is true that would make for a pretty exciting discovery. Can’t wait to see how it all pans out. Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt.

My prayers go out to all for a holy and blessed Lenten season. May God open all our hearts and minds to draw strength from Him and allow His love and mercy to draw us closer to Him in every way!

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 00:51 | Comments Off on Entering Lent
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