I always feel a shift in my own life when the Church shifts into Lent. Do you as well? There are a few subtle changes in the Mass (no Gloria, no Alleluia), the readings take on a more solemn tone, the colors change, and there is a greater focus on confession and sacrifice. In my own life I sense that shift in the sacrifice or sacrifices I plan to take on, in the extra prayers I hope to incorporate into my everyday, and in how all those will bring me closer to God.
It’s a great time to start letting go of the things of this world. We see that pretty clearly in the Gospel passage for this coming Sunday. It is the things of this world with which the devil tempts Jesus. But he knows that nothing in this world can compare to our Heavenly home with God.
Sit back and take some time to read, reflect, respond, and rest in the Gospel passage for the First Sunday of Lent. Join me as we read this passage in the manner of lectio divina prayer. To find the Gospel reading, follow this link to the USCCB website for Sunday’s readings. For a brief review of the lectio divina steps, I recommend this brief explanation from the Archabbey of St. Meinrad.
Don’t forget, I’d love to hear some of your own thoughts (what caught your attention, what you feel God is saying to you, etc.) in the comments below.
- He fasted
- The tempter
- Worship me
REFLECT: What is God saying to you?
I found this Gospel reading particularly powerful. We all have temptations in our lives and for many of us we are trying to identify and rid ourselves of the things that tempt us during this Lenten season. The thing about temptations is that they can overtake aspects of our lives. Even our whole lives if they are addictive enough. And they lead us away from God. If we’re not worshiping God, we’re worshiping the devil, the tempter, the temptation itself.
The more I reflect on this the more it scares me. I’d be kidding myself is I said that all my love and devotion was focused on God alone. I’m human, and like anyone else there are things in my life, temptations, that get in the way of giving 100% to God. One thing I love about Lent is that the Church gives us readings like this one and encourages us to use this season for serious reflection on the temptations in our lives and growing closer to God. We should use this time to not just give something up for the sake of giving it up, but to give it up for love of God. With this in mind I know I want to be much more conscientious of how I spend my time each day and to focus more on God’s plan for me each and every day. My Lenten sacrifices will be a constant reminder each day to keep the focus on where it should be, God’s love for me.
I can’t help but also think of the countless people in our society today who worship the devil. They may not recognize that this is what they are doing, but when you deny God and his Church and turn instead to worshiping things of this world, you are worshiping the devil. This Gospel passage is a reminder to me to intensify my prayers this Lent for my loved ones who are away from the Church.
RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?
I hope that this Lent I can become more conscientious overall of the temptations that draw me away from giving my all for God alone. I have given something up this Lent, and in doing so I hope that it will afford me the ability to focus more on the things that really matter, serving my family and serving God. The concept of dying to self will be much more present to me this Lent (I hope). I pray that God will hear my prayers and help me to stay on track so that I can more fully love him.
Read the passage one final time and spend a few moments in quiet contemplation, rest in the words of the Gospel.
What do you feel God is saying to you in this passage? How would you respond to him? Share your thoughts in the comments.