Saturday, February 28, 2015

First Sunday of Lent, B

Overcoming Temptations
When we seriously consider the agony and crucifixion of Christ; the price he paid for our salvation, there is every reason to sincerely examine our lives and to make amends for our failings.   This total self-giving for the sake of sinful humanity is beautifully expressed in the song “You came from heaven to earth to show the way, from the earth to the cross my debt to pay, from the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky…Lord I lift your name on high”

Though we often turn our back on our Redeemer again and again, he doesn’t give up on mankind, but offers us afresh the opportunity to come back to him during this grace-filled season of Lent. This is a time of spiritual warfare; it is a time when a thorough examination of conscience will reveal the depth to which we have fallen short of the glory of God. And, in order to walk on the path of life, and attain the fullness of joy in God’s presence, we need self-control and self -discipline. Self-control is the mark of a mature person; it applies to control of the tongue, relationship with others, and the appetites of the body. 

 The temptations of Jesus in the desert after he fasted forty days and forty nights speak to us about our own daily struggles against all kinds of temptations. Jesus succeeds because of self-control and self-discipline. He does not fall into the devil’s trap on lust of the flesh, pride and lust of the eyes (Mtt 4:5-8). 

How often are we caught in the pursuit of excessive pleasure in food, drink, and other sensual pleasures? St Paul warns:  For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus” Christ”(Ph 3:18-20)

As we undertake this spiritual journey, let us endeavor to stand tall amidst the trials that come our way; for, “If you don’t stand up for what you believe in, you will fall for anything.” Beware of the devil’s proposals on lust of the flesh, pride, greed, and lust of the eyes. This is the period when many temptations will come our way, but remember: “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life (Jn 6:63). 

What route do we take in this battle? First, submit yourself to God and resist the devil and he will run away from you (Jm 4:7). Secondly, develop a personal relationship with Jesus by reading the Bible daily. Thirdly, pray and fast because through fasting, the flesh is mortified while the spirit is fortified. 

Fourthly, avoid resentment, anger, uncharitable gossip. On the contrary, be charitable in thoughts, words and deeds. Lastly, make confession and repentance a regularly spiritual activity. God is good all the time!  

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