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2019 Lenten Reflections - 1st Sunday of Lent

Jodene Morrell, Ph.D. on Sunday, 10 March 2019.

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The last two lines of today’s Gospel read, “When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.” These three final words certainly give me pause. Lent is a powerful reminder that I need to be steadfast, to pray, fast, and give–not just during these forty days, but every day, for the temptations of the world are a constant. How I respond is the variable.

 We focus on the forty days Jesus spent in the desert and are reminded of the devil’s provocations and promises of power and glory. Indeed, it would be boastful and dishonest for me to assert that I have a smidgen of the confidence in my ability to resist the temptations of the world as powerfully and completely as Jesus opposed the devil. Thankfully, Lent is a special time to strive to be more like Him and to pray for grace when I fall short.

I am reminded of a homily from our priest in Long Island, who encouraged us to think of Lent not as a time of giving up but as taking up. He shared many examples, such as giving up favorite foods and activities. But instead of thinking about what we lose, we should think about all we gain. Giving up video games means more time with family and friends, to read, to pray, to find quiet moments for reflection. Giving up sweets or coffee means taking up a healthier lifestyle. Regardless of what we choose to give up, I hope we consider what we take up as positive and spiritually nourishing habits that strengthen our faith and draw us closer to God.

I am comforted and encouraged by today’s Gospel, but I am also mindful of those three final words, “for a time,” because temptation is a constant. Knowing this, I am immensely grateful for these forty days as a time to grow deeper and stronger in my faith, to be more penitent, and to embrace this spiritual journey.

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