Lent is here. It begins with our Lord Jesus Christ submitting himself under the prophetic call to repentance from his cousin, John, the Baptist, and allowing himself to be submerged in the water of the Jordan river for the ritual baptism, a commitment to convert and render his life to God.
We see the heavens opening up, the Holy Spirit descending upon him in the form of a dove; and we hear the gentle voice of God, the Father, declaring: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
God the Father loves Jesus and declares to all creation of His love for His only-begotten Son. In so doing God the Father also declares His love for you. God loves you and He loves you first; that’s why He sent Jesus to you. So “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Love is the motif and the motivation for all that Jesus does for us. He loves God, the Father, and thus enters into this world to live, suffer and die for us. He reveals to us not only through His stories and examples, but also by His life and death, the love of God the Father reserved for us from all eternity.
The very first act of love Jesus wants to show us is fasting. He enters into the desert with the Holy Spirit for forty days and forty nights to confront His own human weaknesses and the Devil. He endures hunger and thirst, the lonely life in the howling desert and the assaults of the Devil. He fasts, He prays and He trusts in the Word of His Father. This is to show us how to repent and render to God what belongs to Him.
Following Jesus’ footsteps we are called to embark in this pilgrimage of forty days of Lent. With Jesus we listen to the loving voice of God, the Father; we do penance and deny ourselves. The following meditations are 40 straight-forward acts of repentance to help you look back and re-examine your own life with Jesus.
Let us take this pilgrimage of repentance to pray for our Catholic Church, especially for our priests.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Walk with us on this pilgrimage.
Let us pray.
Grant us, O Lord, to begin our Christian warfare with holy fasts; that as we are about to do battle with the spirits of evil we may be defended by the aid of self-denial and the protecting gaze of our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Suppose you’re still with Jesus. Suppose you bring your life and business along with Him into the desert. Suppose you allow yourself to feel what He feels, then you will see what He sees.
What does Jesus see? Emptiness. All is empty. Everything is only an empty shell. The sky is empty. The earth is empty. The desert is empty. Even the sand, the dust, the dirt that make up all things, plants, animals and the human bodies are also empty.
Look deep and you will see. Look at your body as if through a super-electron microscope, what will you see? Only empty space. Look at your life as you look through a roll of film, what do you see? Hollow darkness. Look at yourself as if you are carefully peeling an onion, what will you see at the end? Nothing.
Look through the eyes of Jesus and you will truly see: that your life and busy-ness are all emptiness. What we fuss about or fight with others for the little things we really don’t own or have, are all empty. In the end we all will end up with nothing.
This is the true source of our longing. We all want to be something. We want to have something. The wanting in our body, our brain, our belly, our heart, our mind and our soul is telling us of our being empty. Every part of ourselves is an empty container. They all want to be filled. They want to have and to hold. In a word, we want love.
About 3,000 years ago, a wise king at the end of his life came to this same conclusion: “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Now Jesus has come to fill us up with the great Good News, that God the Father loves us. “For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God” (John 16:27).
Take a deep breath...., and breathe out…., say, “All is vain.” Empty out yourself.
Breathe in…., say, “Jesus remains.” Hold on to Jesus.
Do this seven times. Use this Spiritual Exercise today when you feel uptight.
Let us pray for priests to realize that all is vain and that only Jesus matters.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Help all your priests see that “all is vain” and only Your Son remains.