Lent is near. Beginning with Wednesday’s ashes, this 40-day season is a journey into the heart of our faith. The word “Lent” comes from the word meaning “spring” and, we can expect that if we actively undertake this Lenten journey, we will experience spiritual growth and renewal. On the first Sunday of Lent, we follow Christ into the desert where he faces three temptations. Each temptation is powerful precisely because it sparkles with illusions of happiness. The devil beguiles Jesus by appealing to the three P’s: power (jump from temple parapet), pleasure (stones transformed to bread) and possessions (the wealth and magnificence of the nations). Because they are basic human goods, each entices as the source and summit of human happiness.
Jesus responds to each enticement by quoting Scripture, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that come from the mouth of God;” “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test;” and finally, “Get away, Satan! It is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” As a man, Jesus overcomes the devil’s wiles, not because of miraculous motivation or super strength of will, but because He was empowered by the truth of Scripture.
Lent gives us the spiritual tool of prayer. Prayer is the foundation of our spiritual life. Without prayer, no spiritual growth is possible. In the Gospel we see that prayer is what shatters the illusion that happiness comes from power. Instead, happiness comes from knowing and doing God’s will, which is discovered through prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God and then quieting ourselves to listen for His response. From the time we wake up until the moment of evening retirement, our days are bursting with the noise of activity and bustle. Yet through it all, God is trying to speak to us. But we cannot hear his voice without taking regular time each day to sit down, quiet our minds and embrace the silence. Lent calls us in a practical way to carve out moments for prayer, to join the community in worship and to enter into the silence where God speaks to our hearts.
These 40 days of Lent will be filled with struggles and temptation, yet through prayer we anticipate the rich fruit of God’s blessing blossoming in our lives. May this Lent truly be a springtime of grace!
Blessings for the Journey!