First Sunday of Lent

At the beginning of Lent there is the unique opportunity to enter a short season where we might be able to respond in a new way to the world. Many psychologists suggest 6 weeks is the ideal length of time to break a habit and pick up a new one. It is as if God invented Lent specifically to give ourselves the perfect chance of renewal and transformation.
Jesus spends forty days and nights in the desert fasting and praying. At the end of his experience he would have been hungry, would have sought companionship, would have been wanting a shower and a haircut! After forty days alone, he was vulnerable, ripe for temptation. so the devil was smart; he knew how to hit Jesus where he was most vulnerable; he tried to allure him with tantalizing temptations.
Temptations come when we are most vulnerable. It is an enticement to put our own desires and needs first, to give into our impulses without considering too seriously the consequences. Resisting temptation is resisting self-centeredness! Like Jesus, we must choose to surrender ourselves to God who alone should be the center of our lives.
The dust that shapes the journey, the cross that guides it, the color that surrounds it, the light that fades through it, the word that foretells it, The wilderness that invites it. This is Lent, and into it’s wilderness  God calls us.

Adapted from Renew International: Prayer Time Cycle A

Be Vigilant

Jesus told the disciples not to be afraid, but rather to get sturdy purses to hold all they will receive from God.  If they served God, their reward would be great—but it would not be the reward of worldly wealth.  In the second part of the Gospel, Jesus preached the message of watchfulness and being ready for his return.  In a servant explanation of his point, Jesus told them that God would be so happy to see them at the banquet that God would put on an apron and cook a meal for them.  This is similar to the message Jesus gave the disciples at the Last Supper when he washed their feet in service.

When the third millennium arrived, many people worried that the world would end.  We all read accounts of predictions citing signs and scripture.  Mostly the mood was one of fear and anxiety.  Today’s Gospel assures us that we have nothing to fear.  Our only responsibility is to be ready for Jesus’ return.  We also hear that we have been entrusted with this Good News.  So now what do we do with it?  Most likely we know we are basically good people, good parents, and good disciples.  But is there something more we can do, or does some part of our responsibility need attention?   During these summer days, we might quietly reflect on how we view the end times and check our readiness.  How are we doing with the Good News we’ve been given? [Living Liturgy 2016]

The final line of this gospel is most demanding and directly applicable to our daily paschal mystery living: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” We’ve been entrusted with much: furthering Jesus’ mission of bringing the Good News of salvation to all as his disciples. We have been entrusted with even more: we are not simply servants, but because of our baptism and being plunged into the paschal mystery we become members of the Body of Christ. We followers of Jesus are most vigilant for the master, that is, Jesus himself, when we are being who the Master is because his Life has been given to us. We are to be the presence of the Master himself, continuing his gracious ministry on behalf of others. Our faithfulness is measured by even more than doing God’s will; it is measured by our being the presence of the risen Christ for all those we meet. Any doing must flow from our being. Only then do we truly continue Jesus’ ministry. The real surprise of the gospel is that we ourselves, in our daily paschal mystery living of dying to ourselves for the sake of others, become more perfectly that presence of the very Master for whom we are vigilant. In a sense our vigilance is less about looking for Someone and more about being Someone.

Our vigilance is for our own faithfulness. If we are preoccupied by possessions, schedules, work, sports, entertainment, and so forth, our hearts are already filled with exhaustible, insecure, and corruptible matters. The challenge of this gospel is to redirect our hearts to what is our true treasure, Jesus, and then be faithful disciples. The gift is great. Our Treasure is Jesus.

Adapted from Renew International PRAYER TIME Cycle C