40 ACTS OF REPENTANCE WITH PRIESTS - DAY 6
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.
“Rend your hearts,” says the Lord, “not your garments” (Joel 2: 13).
Do you remember who rent his garment before the seventy priests at the trial of Jesus? His name was Caiaphas, the High Priest of the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:65). That was a self-shaming act. Just imagine the un-imaginable: a bishop tearing off his robes at Mass in front the priests and the people! You get the idea.
Do you remember why Caiaphas did what he did? To condemn Jesus to death: ““He has blasphemed! What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy; what is your opinion?” They said in reply, “He deserves to die!”” (Matthew 26:65-67).
Do you remember what Jesus did to deserve such a condemnation? He told the truth. Caiaphas ordered: “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63). Jesus responded: “You have said so” (Matthew 26:64). He told the truth. That is the reason for His death.
When you confront with the truth, you have only one choice to make: kill it or be killed by it. Confronted with the Truth, Caiaphas chose to kill it by tearing off his garment; on the other hand, being true to Himself, Jesus chose to speak the truth as it is and it tore off the garment of His Body and even His post-mortem Heart; it literally killed Him.
The Truth in fact exposes to the whole world Who Jesus really is, and what we truly are: that He Himself is the incarnate Truth, which can be killed but never dies; and that we are humans who love to speak about “the truth” but hate to confront the truth about ourselves, in particular our many sinful self-delusions. We love lies.
Be honest. Ask yourself: do you hate the truth about yourself? Specifically, when the truth exposes you to your false sense of self-importance and righteousness, what do you do? Do you let it kill your egoistic pride or do you deny it with lies?
It is the lie, not “the Truth,” that dominates the human heart. “The fool says in his heart,” the Psalmist points out, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1; 53;1). Thus says the Lord: “Rend your heart, not your garments” (Joel 2: 13). Tear off your lying heart, so that Christ may be exposed in you and His Spirit of Truth may be sown and grow within you: “Create in me a clean heart, O God;” sings the same Psalmist, “put a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Now make your choice: choose the Truth and be truthful.
Let us pray for all priests to be truthful and always speak the Truth.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Make your priests truthful and always speak the Truth.