AS A KID growing up, for as long as I could remember, I had always been told that I had to give something up for Lent. I could never understand the concept of giving up something that you like for 40 days. I remember my parents telling me that Lent is a time to focus on the spiritual gifts that we have, not the material. They were absolutely right.
We live in a world that is surrounded by many material things, such as phones, tablets and computers. In this age of technology, we are given the world at our fingertips. As good as many of those things are, I find myself asking these questions: Are these things taking the place that Christ should have in my life? Material things are good, but are they taking over the parts of our lives that the Lord should be in?
Tempted By Darkness
Our Gospel today depicts Jesus being tempted by Satan in the desert. Each year on the first Sunday of Lent, we hear how our Lord was tempted by Satan. Likewise, each of us are tempted throughout our lives by the prince of darkness. It is Satan’s mission to seek our souls, and he does so in such clever ways. Satan uses the things of this world to lure us into sin. He wants us to focus on the things of this world and use them for our own glory. We must never allow Satan and all of his empty promises to take root within our lives.
Jesus reminds us at the beginning of this season to “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). As witnesses of the Lord, we must call ourselves to repentance and proclaim the Good News of Jesus. We are all poor sinners, looking to get to heaven.
Over the next 40 days, we are invited to give ourselves completely and totally over to the Lord. We must never hold onto the material things of this world so tightly that we forget to hold onto the Savior of this world.
To See and Believe
We are reminded in today’s second reading from St. Peter that Christ’s suffering will lead us to the Father. We hear, “For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ shed His blood on the cross out of pure love, so that we, His witnesses, could share in the abundant love of the Father.
As we begin these days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, let us not focus on the things that we are giving up, but bask in the glory of what we are to gain, that is, eternal life.
May this Lenten season be a time of repentance, reconciliation and rejuvenation, as we prepare to celebrate with great joy our Lord’s victory over sin and death.
Readings for the First Sunday of Lent
Genesis 9: 8-15
Psalm 25: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
1 Peter 3: 18-22
Mark 1: 12-15
Father Cox is the pastor of St. Martin de Porres parish, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and diocesan coordinator of ministry to African-American Catholics.