March 9, 2014 – First Sunday of Lent
The readings for this First Sunday of Lent present to us exactly what Lent should be about. In the Gospel from Matthew, reference is made to the time Jesus spent in the desert, “He fasted for forty days and nights.” Most of us are aware that Lent, which began on Ash Wednesday, is 40 days in length, ending on Holy Thursday after the Mass of the Last Supper.
We may also be aware that we are called to prayer, penance, repentance, fasting, almsgiving, and some elements of self-denial during this Lenten time. Today’s church keeps reminding us, nonetheless, that we need to do more than stop doing things. We also need to start doing things. That is where stewardship comes in, of course.
The Gospel tells us that Jesus was “tempted” by the devil. Notably the word for “tempt” in Greek is the same as the word for “trial.” Just as the Lord was put to trial by Satan, we, too, are put to trial every day. Our response has to be more than just saying “no” to those things which are not good for us. We also need to say “yes” to more good things — more practices which deepen our faith and bring us closer to God. That is what the 40 days of Lent are really about.