Sr. Phyllis Jaszkowiak
First Sunday of Lent
February 18, 2018
Jesus was led into the desert for 40 days, to find what? He had just been baptized by John the Baptist and heard the words, “You are my Beloved. In you I am well pleased”. What did that mean for him in his life? He was then led, by the Spirit, into the desert to reflect and pray on his baptism experience.
In the desert, Jesus resisted the temptation to go after the idols, or demons, of power, wealth, popularity. These idols would not bring about the Kingdom of God that he preached, by word and action, after his sojourn in the desert.
Lent is a time for us to also hear the words, “You are my Beloved”. It is a time to find that God is within us and we are within God. That we have within us that spark of the divine that we are to share with everyone.
We are asked to pray, fast and give alms. We pray to get to the heart of where God dwells within us and experience God face-to-face. Take the time to do just that. Take time each day, the Little Black Books say take at least 6 minutes. Come each Sunday to pray with the community at Mass. Come each Wednesday for evening Prayer, and then if you can, stay and reflect with the group afterward. Come on Friday at noon, if you can, to pray the Stations of the Cross.
Fast from whatever hinders you developing a deeper relationship with God and with others. Maybe those closest to you need more of your time, so fast from not giving of your time, to giving time to others.
Give alms of your time, talent and treasure. Really see who you are helping, a brother or sister to you. Maybe just giving a smile to a grocery store clerk would be giving alms to someone, listening to your child or spouse, or donating some time to help repair a mobile home. Think of other ways you can give to others.
God gave the rainbow to remind Noah of God’s covenant. Perhaps there is a sign that, when we see it, it will remind us of God. It could be a big sign, like a billboard, or a small sign like a bulb coming out of the earth in the spring. Whatever it is, it is there to remind us God is within us and we are within God.
Ilia Delio, a Franciscan, says: “Only when we come to the truth of who we are (and who we are not) as poor persons can we come to that place of vulnerability in our lives where God can enter in.” (Ilia Delio)
All of this leads to transformation of ourselves, when we look deep within ourselves to see what and whom we really follow – God or other idols.
Soren Kierkegaard, a philosopher, once said: “(T)oday we play at believing, play at being Christians. We remain at home in the old grooves of finitude – and then go out and twaddle* with one another, or let preachers twaddle to us, about the promises that are found in Christ.” (Kierkegaard) I admit I had to do a bit of soul-searching to rout out any twaddle I might be preaching to you.
Christ is real and his message is real. We need to not play at being Christian, but be Christian. There is a quote, “If you were accused of being Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
Lent is a time to take stock about how seriously Christ is to us, just something we talk about, or someone we follow
Lent is time to revisit God, our relationship to God, and all that God has done for us, so that at Easter we can proclaim to all the world, the Kingdom of God is here right now, right in this place, just as Jesus proclaimed after his sojourn in the desert. We only have to look, see and remember – God is here.
Ilia Delio, OSF, CLARE OF ASSISI: A HEART FULL OF LOVE. Franciscan Media, 2007. Page 24.
Soren Kierkegaard, in PROVOCATIONS: SPIRITUAL WRITINGS OF KIERKEGAARD. Quoted in THIS DAY February 2018. Page 64.
*Twaddle – silly, idle or boring talk or writing.