John Connelly


First Sunday of Lent – February 14, 2016
Deuteronomy 26.4-10 | Psalm 91 | Romans 10.8-13 | Luke 4.1-13
February 8, 2016

Lent reminds us all that we are on an interior journey that does not end until the day we die. This journey takes us through deserts. It is a journey that brings us into a battle with our ancient and sinister foe. It is a journey that ultimately leads to victory through the cross.

I do not enjoy suffering. I do not enjoy the desert days where God's presence seems far away. I do not enjoy the internal battles when the powers of darkness cause temptation, stress and anxiety.

But when I see how Jesus in this Sunday's Gospel faces off with Satan in the desert I can take hope. Over and over the enemy says to Jesus, "If you are the Son of God. . .".

This is the deepest temptation of all. Satan wants us to doubt who we really are. He wants us to doubt the truth that we are beloved sons and daughters of God. He wants us to believe evil is in control and God is not.

'Jesus answered them, "It is said, "Do not put the Lord your God: to the test.""'

Luke 4.12

All can see this world is in serious trouble. Terrorist attacks. Deep economic issues. Political corruption and persecution of many of the core values of our faith.

It is almost as though the powers of darkness are whispering to us that we are insignificant. That we are baptized children of God makes no difference.

I am sure all of us have felt the temptation to give in to the despair that is growing in our world today.

We need to look up. We need to see the image of the crucified Jesus on the distant horizon. We need to see that evil has been thoroughly defeated by the cross.

The cross is the final word on sin, death and despair. The cross shouts the victory of God over all the terrible things the world is facing. The cross proclaims that we are all created to be children of God, and that love will always prevail.

Yes, the cross is a doorway to eternal life and infinite love.

Lent is all about putting things into perspective. It is about examining our lives in the light of truth and seeing who we really are. It is a rousing call to take on our true identity as beloved children of God and to renounce apathy and fear.

Here we are. The desert calls to us. Many more battles wait for us.

But Lent and the Jubilee Year of Mercy assure us that Jesus is with us. He is the grace, love and mercy we need. He is the path, the victory, the light at the end of even the darkest tunnel.

Look at the cross and see the limitless love that calls us. Look at our broken world and see that Easter is not far off.

Lord Jesus, lead us all on this Lenten journey into the depths of mercy. Amen.