HYMN Be Not Afraid Bob by Dufford, SJ
Almighty Father, as we walk with Jesus through these days of Lent, show us how to know Him more nearly and love Him more dearly each day. Confident of the light and strength of the Holy Spirit, as we embark on our Lenten journey, we ask these graces in the name of Jesus who lived and died that we may have new life. Amen.
GOSPEL Matt 4:1-11
What word or phrase speaks to you? Challenges you? Comforts you?
Read the Gospel a second time.
Jesus is like us in all ways, sin excepted. Today’s Gospel testifies that Jesus’s planned time of solitude and prayer was wracked by demons. And don’t we all know that experience? And how to handle it? “Get away,” says Jesus and they do. Sometimes the demon that attacks us during Lent tries to tempt us to doubt our own goodness, sounding like this: “You are not doing enough penance,” trying to tear into our solitude with feelings of doubt and self-absorption. It is true, Lent is a penitential season but there is more to it. It is especially a sacred time of prayer with an invitation to walk with Jesus, answering the question from a recent weekday gospel, “Who do you say I am?” Jesus guides us to a deepened relationship as we walk with Him through His public life, through threats, betrayal, death and resurrection. Jesus does not threaten us but reminds us, “we live by every word that comes from the mouth of God”.
Focusing on the invitation to go with Jesus into the desert, cherishing Lent’s solitude as an invitation to deepen our prayer, we cling to His reminder that we “live on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Prayer becomes the center of our life as we grope for the words that free us to let His heart, His thoughts and His feelings become ours. Each day
Jesus speaks to us, in a special gospel message, selected to lead us to a deepened closeness as we follow Him calling those he loved by name, and hearing Him calling our own. He speaks words of care and closeness and invites us to make His message ours. In the process we come closer, more ready to plunge with Him into the Paschal Mystery we will celebrate with deepened faith, hope and love as we remember His suffering and the suffering of the Mystical Christ today. And the why of it all is to bring us to the new Life of His resurrected presence and His promise to never, ever leave us alone.
Jesus take us to the desert and stay with us. Speak to our hearts about all that matters. Chase away everything that doesn’t. Caress our hearts so they know you better, see you more clearly in the suffering of your children and your planet. Let us say to all who suffer, “Your tears are my tears. Your pain is my pain.”
*Pope Francis, Congo 2/1/23
Prepared by Karen Kane.
Reflections and opening prayer written by Sr. Mary Ann Barnhorn, SNDdeN.