He may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; rooted and grounded in love. -- Eph. 3:16, 17
Turning from Self To God
First Sunday of Lent
Reflection based on:
Mark 1: 12-15
In today's Gospel reading of Mark, it contains a couple intriguing verses: "At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him." The same Spirit who descended on Jesus in his Baptism now drives him into the desert for forty days. The combined forces of evil (wild beasts) and good (angels) were present to Jesus in the desert.
Wow! Does that sound familiar? How many times throughout my life have I encountered a battle with temptation? I do recall, one time, while fasting during Lent, the Lord revealed to me that in a certain situation, I was becoming a little too self-centered. However, I did learn through that awareness, fasting does create a hunger for God's healing. This experience through God's grace, helped me to turn from self-centeredness toward God-centeredness, not always easy. But God knows my weaknesses and my potential. "Return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning." (Joel 2: 12)
"If you want your prayers to fly to God, equip them with the two wings of fasting and almsgiving." This good advice from St. Augustine encourages us to practice the "holy trio" that the church calls us to each Lent, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. As I continue on this Lenten journey, I pray to be open to his love and mercy. He knows every step I take toward him, he has the potential to heal and transform me and even more importantly, to live completely for Him, other people, and not for myself.
In conclusion, Jesus proclaims the gospel of God: "This is a time of fulfillment, the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."