1st Sunday in Lent –Spiritual Training- by Fr Kevin Walsh
Well Lent is with us once again…….it comes around quickly, doesn’t it? And once again we often say to ourselves and to others…time flies! I’ve noticed like you that Coles and Aldi have had Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies for Sale for the last few weeks. Baker’s Delight here in Australia has beautiful Hot Cross Buns for Sale already, and we are not even near Good Friday. Once again, we see that the commercial world is more interested in making money, as it uses the Religious significance for its own ends.
In the Southern Hemisphere, we are getting close to autumn (21st March, Lunar Time), even though many of us say in Eastern Australia, that summer has come and gone so quickly. However, for our sisters and brothers in the Northern Hemisphere, they may be thinking ‘When will Winter end?’ However, Lent is that time of the year in the North, when the Lights on the Advent Wreath truly suggest that the days are getting shorter. However with the variance of Climate, let’s just get down to the meaning of Lent!
In short, Lent can be looked upon as a ‘Training time’…a toning up time for our spiritual life, which has immediate repercussions in our relational life with each other. So, looking at the Readings for this weekend, we see in the first Reading from the Book of Genesis, that our God breathed into Humankind the His life giving breath, which enabled us to know that we shared a special existence with God, and each other. However, humankind got too big for their boots and said, WE WANT TO BE IN CHARGE! That was the total misuse of God’s Gift to us. Sin is turning away from God in a deliberate way. The Response in the Psalm takes up a conscious collective response…Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
So Lent can be seen as a time of renewal…both personal and communitarian. Let’s look at the Lenten curtain raiser in Matthew’s Gospel for this weekend…..The Temptations of Jesus in the Desert! Here we have a mega clue as to what to do, and what to become, during Lent. The Temptations which Jesus faced, and responded to in a proper way, are the very same Temptations that follow us around in life too. Under three headings..PLEASURE, POWER AND THE AVOIDANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY. These Temptations were attractively presented to Jesus by the Devil as a preferred life orientation…Jesus, refuted these Temptations and unconditionally chose the orientation of LOVING SERVICE. Repent comes from a Greek word, metanoia which means change…not just on the outside but to change all the way through. One way of visualising this is to ask you to stand on your hands, right now! In doing that, we would see the world differently. I think if I were to stand on my hands right now, I’d be rushed off to Hospital! But, I think that you get my drift. So, let’s go back to the scripture quote….Repent and what? Believe the Good News. Belief in this case, is not just some academic approach, but our aim ought to BEING ‘Good News’. Lent is the time to STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN to what really flavours our Life? Lent is the time to do something about it. As a Community…Let’s get on with it! Spiritual Gym time is now! God’s Word each week, invites us to TURN AWAY FROM SIN AND BE FAITHFUL TO THE GOSPEL. What are you saying to me Lord, through your Word?