Temptations come when we are at our weakest and most vulnerable where we cannot say no and thus succumb to our sinful ways. In the gospel reading, Jesus was in the desert for 40 days and when he was at the most hungry, the devil appeared to him.
To me the devil manifests itself today in the form of the secular world where religion has been brushed aside. People would push through with their acts of violence and pride in manipulating us to do things that we Catholics should not engage in such as abortion and contraception. Recently, I read in this report that even one of the Catholic groups in the States challenge the Catholic tradition to allow abortion and contraception in the wake of the Zika virus, when they should be advocating natural family planning instead. We can be blinded by our own judgement that we forget even our traditions.
The opening of the gospel reading shows that,“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil”(Luke 4:1-13).
Many a times, we too manipulate Jesus and try to buy our way in obtaining our graces because we need our prayers to be answered. I am guilty of it too sometimes and thus I would say these to Jesus:
“I command you to turn this stone into bread”
“I want all the power and glory so you must grant them to me”
“I only turn to God when I need help, if not he is pushed to one side”
Yes, it is easy to test God and to want to have power over him which is wrong. Being merciful and understanding, Jesus wants us to follow his ways instead:
“One does not live on bread alone”
“You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve”
“You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test”
After comparing the verses, I felt Jesus’ way to be sincere and easier to follow with prayer and in remembering these lines. As we enter into the first Sunday of Lent, let us be reminded that we live on the word of the God and the Holy Spirit. Also that there is only one God (Jesus) and we should seek our intentions with prayer ,obedience and patience.
Let us try to do these Lenten suggestions in changing our spiritual lives and the lives around us for the better (I have shortened the version provided by the Church):
- Thank God for the gift of life and offer the day to him.
- Go to daily mass, if not, just take time to reflect on the word of God.
- Go for two masses during the week.
- Spend time in Eucharistic adoration.
- Go to confession.
- Read a chapter of the bible.
- Learn to pray the Liturgy of Hours.
- Take time to pray through the hours of the day.
- Attend Stations of the Cross on Fridays.
- Pray the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary on Fridays and Wednesdays.
- Get to know the Fathers of the Church and read about them.
- Start a Family Rosary.
- Pray for the intentions of our Holy Father Pope Francis.
- Pray each day for our Archbishop William Goh’s intentions for the local Church.
- Pray for priests, religious and deacons.
- Pray for Christians who are persecuted in their own countries.
- Pray for Christian unity.
- Pray for the evangelisation for those who have not yet accepted the Good News.
- Pray for your enemies.
- Pray for the end to abortion.
- Pray for peace.
- Pray for an end to capital punishment.
- Keep a prayer journal or plan a retreat during Lent.
- Spend family time in discovering more about the Catholic Faith.
- Start Fasting on a weekly basis.
- Watch spiritual videos.
- Seek a Saint for his or her intercession that appeals to you.
- Visit a nursing home or hospital to bring joy and love to the sick.
- Watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ.
- Spend quality time together with your loved ones.
- Participate in Year of Mercy events in the Archdiocese.
- Bring a non-practicing Catholic to Church.
- Adopt the above new practices permanently in having a deeper Christian life!
Be grateful for our Catholic faith and let us continue to explore the deeper meaning of Lent. May we also look into our personal experience in encountering Jesus deeply in the season of Lent and in knowing more about him. Let us not be distracted by our temptations in experiencing the mercy and compassion of Jesus! God Bless!
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong